The role of artistic activities in the development of self-regulation in preschoolers

Veraksa, Aleksandr Nikolaevich
D.Sc. in Psychology, Professor, Academician of the Russian Academy of Education, Head of the Psychology of Education and Pedagogics Department of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, Director of Moscow University Press of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, Vice-Director for Research of the Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education, Moscow, Russia

Ambartsumyan, Margarita Arainovna
Head of Interschool Aesthetic Center, UNESCO Associated School,
Honoured Teacher of the Russian Federation, Honoured Artist of Kuban, Krasnodar, Russia


There is a whole spectrum of research on the influence of art on mental development in children. However, the question of the relationship of artistic activities and the development of self-regulation of a child remains underexplored despite the fact that the problem of behavioural regulation holds a specific place both in Soviet and Russian psychological science. Contemporary foreign psychology distinguishes a special research direction aimed at the study of voluntary regulation. This direction holds the concept of executive functions as its key notion. Executive functions are an umbrella term for neurocognitive processes allowing purposeful problem solving and adaptation to new situations. Research data indicates strongly that in preschool age three separate but interconnected components of executive functions can be defined. They are: working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control. The development of executive functions in preschool age determines school performance, social adaptedness, and even life quality in adulthood. Given the high significance of executive functions, the study of the factors potentially affecting them, is of utmost importance. Artistic activities can act as one of such factors.
Artistic activities have a rich potential for the development of executive functions in preschoolers, because during such sessions adults don’t play a directive role but support independence and initiative of the child instead. They help the child to control his/her own attention and behaviour. Besides, artistic activities can create a favourable emotional environment and motivation for the solving of various cognitive problems, which, in turn, promotes the development of executive functions.
A study was held on Russian school students in order to explore the relationship of artistic activities and the level of development of executive functions. This study involved approximately 1500 5-6 year old children from a whole number of Russian cities (Kazan, Krasnodar, Moscow, Perm, Yakutsk, and other cities of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)). 180 participants took a one-year complex program for aesthetic and intellectual development. It included 30-minute music, dance, and painting classes, as well as classes dedicated to the exploration of the world around. It was revealed that the level of development of all three components of executive functions in these children was significantly higher.
This study sets and example of mutually enriching collaboration of psychology, pedagogics, and arts. Further investigation in this direction can only be possible under the condition of even deeper interdisciplinary interaction.

Keywords: artistic activities, intellectual development, preschool age, executive functions