Art is Smart
“In any of the arts, you never stop learning.”
— Claire Bloom, actress
Your children are becoming more independent and curious about things outside their immediate family. They tie their own shoes and dress themselves. They’re becoming more interested in their peers and in their own place in the world. The arts help them figure out who they are by introducing them to other cultures and to new ways of thinking, of expressing themselves, and communicating with others.
The arts help children learn important life skills. For example, kids develop self-discipline because they see that practice makes perfect— or at least better. In addition, when kids feel successful in arts activities, they can imagine success in other areas as well. Plus, making art spurs research and learning from others and develops cooperation and appreciation for the talents of different people. Most importantly, making art leads to curiosity, which helps develop lifelong learners.
The arts can also deepen family bonds. It’s important to take your children to museums and be alert to public art all around you. You should talk with them about what you see and how it makes you feel. And don’t forget to read books with them about art and different artists.
Of course, you also can make art at home. Here are some suggestions for arts activities to do in your home:
- Tell your child: “Draw me a lake, draw me a fish, draw me a tree, draw me a sun,” and they get excited just because you’re telling them to draw and they want to show you they can do it.
- Watch television programs about art or great cultures, and then talk about them together.
- Play the word/song game. Suggest a word to your child and have them come up with a song about the word.
- Write a story together then draw pictures to illustrate your story.
- Create a family band. If you have instruments, use them. If not, bang on pots for drums, blow into bottles for horns, fill empty cans with rice for shakers, and sing!
- Bake together. If you’re creating a dish that has historical perspective, talk about that. Serving and plating food, making a beautiful presentation — that can be art, too.
- Make up your own dances — to rock, classical, folk, or other types of music.
- Draw your own action character. Give him/her an adventure.
The arts help children of this age learn constructive ways to describe their feelings, thoughts, and experiences. They also introduce children to different worlds, cultures, and ways of thinking. In the words of one elementary school father, “Art teaches problem-solving because with art, there’s always another solution, another answer. It’s so important.”