In the last ten years or so an unfortunate trend has occurred within school systems and that is the decline of art programs due to budget cuts according to the executive director of the Association for the Advancement of Arts Education, Glenn A. Ray, Ed.D. At the same time more and more studies have been conducted, proving that a child's participation in the arts has a positive impact on student achievement. In fact, Ray says, "the arts are wonderful ways for helping kids learn in their most optimal way."
Here are some helpful ideas for parents to encourage their child's involvement in the arts.
- Have conversations about art. When you're excited about something, they will be too. Share about the history of a piece of art in your home whether it be a quilt, a piece of pottery, or painting. If the piece has family history related to it, share those stories, too.
- While taking a walk in your neighborhood, look and talk about some of the buildings you see, the shapes, sizes, types of roofs, building materials used and even the number of doors and windows. Does the style or form of a building help its function or what it's used for? Ask what they like or don't like and why.
- Give them materials and a space to create art. While creating art can be messy, you can solve that issue by providing art shirts or aprons, an old table, a drawer or shelf to store materials, and papers or cloths to cover floors. Some material ideas include crayons, modeling clay, scraps of yarn and fabric, different types of paper and found objects like shells, twigs, buttons and such.
- Inspire creativity. Generate some original ideas for art projects with your child and build upon them. You could read only the beginning of a story or the end of it and have your child draw what they think happens or perhaps draw a squiggly line on a piece of paper and ask your child to make it into a complete drawing. When they present you with a piece of art they've created, ask them questions about it, accept it from their point of view so as to encourage them to explore art further. Offer sincere praise and comment positively about the piece.
- Check for local events at art museums. Many community museums offer classes and programming for youth and you can also watch for special events like art fairs. Engage your child's interest by discussing the types of things you might see and do. Presentation of the idea is important, though. For example, if you tell a child they're going to see Egyptian artifacts, they're probably going to think 'how boring'. If you tell them they'll see mummies, jewelry, and good luck charms that ward off evil spirits, they'll look forward to seeing those things. As you tour the museum, have a conversation about shapes, colors and the design of the objects seen. If your child has a hobby or something of which they're particularly fond, check with local museums to see if there's a display that might intrigue your child and make plans to visit.