A Murdoch University study unveils how arts education at a young age can have a positive impact on a child’s critical thinking abilities, affording them skills to make thoughtful choices in the future.

The study, conducted by Murdoch University lecturer, Caroline Nilson, looks at what influence participating in creative arts has on the development of critical thinking in young children. The outcome suggests that by igniting their imagination and creativity through the arts leads to an increased awareness of self and others.

The study focused on a group of 150 children aged eight and nine from three different schools, who participated in a four-month long project developing a collaborative art piece.

Over the course of these four months, parents and teachers of the participants were interviewed to gather feedback on how the critical thinking skills of the children had developed throughout the process.

By the end of the project, both parents and teachers agreed that at the start of the project the kids were passive and waiting for instruction but at the conclusion they had developed considerably. The children had shown signs of increased critical thinking such as grown confidence in their artistic decisions and had learned a great deal about action and consequence.

The full study is titled “Teachers’ and Mothers’ perceptions of using creative arts to develop children’s potential for critical thinking” and is available in full from Murdoch University.

Creative arts is a powerful vehicle for critical thinking instruction in young children.

—Caroline Nilson