If you’re the creative type (or even if you’re not) you probably remember a childhood that allowed you space to explore your imagination and to create.
Whether you drew pictures, performed a play, made up a dance, or even fed rocks to the imaginary creature in the sewer grate, your mind was open and your imagination stimulated.
Unfortunately, the draw of technology has pulled many children from their natural artistic tendencies. If you have an artistically inclined son or daughter, you’ve likely noticed this. And it can be difficult to find ways of exposing your child to the arts.
But it’s so necessary.
The Need for Exposing Your Child to the Arts
Technology has rendered children far less interested in the arts and the outdoor world. Rather than put paint to paper, they’d rather paint on their electronic tablets. Instead of catching frogs in a creek, they’d prefer to watch someone else do it on a YouTube video.
As a result, children are lacking the psychomotor skills necessary to partake in active play. Because they rely on technology for the bulk of their play time, they are losing out on the many benefits that come from being creative and stimulating the imagination – not the least of which being gaining optimal sensory and motor development.
The artistic process requires questioning, experimentation, decision-making, risk-taking, curiosity, and reflection. And as any educator at an arts-integrated high school or middle school can attest to, exposing your child to the arts improves literacy, an ability to grasp math and science, and overall communications skill development.
There are just so many benefits to exposing your child to the arts. For example, it:
1. Teaches New Ways of Thinking
Although it may not seem logical, regular exposure to the arts improves a child’s language skills. Why? Because upon entering the world of art, they must learn an entirely new vocabulary. Whether it’s learning painters’ names, describing works of art, or identifying colors, shapes, and artistic processes, their language skills are challenged in new ways.
In addition, visual-spatial skills are developed. Of course, this one makes more sense. Even so, through making art, they learn how to connect pieces of three-dimensional work, arrange items on paper, and manipulate materials into the shapes and images they desire.
2. Enhances Social Skills
If improving language and visual-spatial skills isn’t alluring enough, exposure to the arts also helps children to develop essential social skills. Through the act of creating, children learn skills such as sharing, caring, and empathizing.
3. Boosts Confidence
Some creative and artsy children may come across as shy or fearful. But when given the chance to shine while singing with a group, playing an instrument, or executing a beautiful painting, they begin to learn to express themselves. They feel more confident in their abilities and the decisions they make. And the more creative ventures they’re free to explore, the more they learn to express themselves in different ways.
4. Improves Emotional Regulation
Okay. Managing emotions is hard work at any age. But for some children, it feels next to impossible.
Having a creative or artistic outlet such as music, theater, writing, or really any of the visual arts can vastly improve the way a child manages his or her thoughts, feelings, and emotions. And this bears out for both positive and negative emotion regulation.
Exposing Your Child to the Arts
So how do you go about exposing your child to the arts? Well, it may require you to pull them off their electronics for a while. And yeah, they’ll likely be resistant.
But if your child shows a proclivity toward creativity, you want to foster that. It may start with creating an art corner somewhere in your home. Or perhaps if finances allow, you can enroll them in music/art/dance lessons.
And if your child is very creatively inclined, you may even want to look into schools that offer an arts-integrated education curriculum. Such an environment takes advantage of teaching traditional subjects through the application of the arts.
But here are a few other considerations:
Listen to Different Kinds of Music
Next time you’re driving your kids somewhere, try out some other radio stations in the car to expose them to different music. Or find or create a playlist with a diverse collection of music that displays a wide range of sounds and cultures. You never know what’ll stir them.
Sing and Dance Together
If you come from a cultural background that has traditional dances or songs, teach them to your children. If that’s not the case, you can always ask them to put on some of their favorite music and create your own dance together. Let your creations together be freestyle, flowing, and collaborative.
See What’s Available Locally
No matter where you live, you should be able to find programs after school, on weekends, and during school breaks that will engage your kids in art. Recreation centers and libraries are great resources.
And if your kids go to camp during the summer, check out some arts-themed camps that will give your child a place to explore visual arts, dance, music, creative writing, and/or dance with other kids.
Introduce Art Museums and Galleries
Finally, if you’re fortunate enough to live near an art museum, check out their programs for kids. Some of them even have scavenger hunt-type handouts at the front desk to spark interest and engagement.
If there are no museums nearby, you may be able to find galleries that are open to having children. Community-type galleries are probably the safest bet. Whatever the case, be sure to discuss the trip before you go to build interest and intrigue.
Embrace and Encourage Creativity in Your Child
Exposing your child to the arts is crucial for his or her development. This is especially the case if your child is wired to be creative.
If you’re interested in learning how your creative child could thrive at an arts academy middle school or high school, contact us to take a tour of our school.
And prepare for possibility.