Art is Smart
“Art is born of the observation and investigation of nature.”
—Cicero, philosopher and statesman
Why do young children thrive because of the arts?
Through the arts, a child learns many skills including observing and describing, analyzing and interpreting, seeing more than one right answer, and hearing multiple points of view. In addition, a child can practice problem-solving and critical thinking, two life skills that are important whether at work or play.
The arts also help children express their feelings with and without words, and are a constructive means of self-expression that can lead to self-knowledge and self-confidence. A child also learns to think creatively and with an open mind. Most of all, children discover it is fun to learn new things about the world through art.
So how can you support your child’s interest in the arts? (By the way, you’re probably already doing some of these things.) Here are some suggestions:
- Celebrate your child’s imagination by talking with her about the arts. Hang her paintings and drawings on the wall or save them in a folder. Ask her questions about her dance, music, visual art, and theater creations. Tell her you’re proud of how hard she has worked.
- Read books with your child. Ask the librarian at the public library or your child’s school to suggest books about artists and the different arts. After you’ve read a book, have your child draw pictures to illustrate the story.
- Notice the arts all around you by experiencing the arts in public spaces. For example, take your family to parks, libraries, city hall, and performing arts centers. Listen to all sorts of music at home, on the street, all around your town or city. Ask your child what she notices and start a conversation about what you notice together. Encourage her to ask questions about music, art, dance, theater. If you don’t know the answer, you can say, “That’s a great question. Let’s find out.” Go to the public library and ask the librarian for help, or go on the Internet for answers.
- Go to local museums where you’ll find that many museums have specific hours when admission is free. Many colleges have a museum you can visit. Some museums have special exhibits or materials for children. When you go, be flexible. Plan a short visit so your child doesn’t get too tired, but stay longer if he’s eager to see more. Bring a snack for when you leave, and as soon as you get there, find out where the bathrooms are.
- Share your feelings about art. Your child will be interested to learn how much the arts mean to you. Teach her the dances, music, and stories from your own cultural heritage. Share your artistic skills and interests with your family. Find out what your child loves about the arts.
- Look for interesting events and exhibits to visit by asking the librarian at your child’s school or public library. Check out your town newspaper and Web sites that list local activities. Use a search engine to find useful Web sites: enter [town name] and “arts,” “activities,” “attractions.”
- Talk to everyone you run into about arts activities. You never know what people are interested in and have information about until you talk to them. (The local grocery store is a great spot to meet other parents in your neighborhood.)
- Use the Internet to look for activities suitable for your child at home (Search “arts activities for children” or use more specific words if you want a particular type of activity: painting, theater, etc.) You can also use the Internet to look for books to read with your child.
- Set up in “arts space” in your home. Add an easel, stock it with paper, crayons and markers. Create a dress up area with clothes and costume items. Add a music player, books, and other art materials, and you have a little one ready to enjoy the arts.
Art makes life more interesting. Helping your child enjoy and create art will help him or her develop important skills and see the world in new and different ways.