Just because schools are continuing to reduce art class offerings because of budget and resource constraints doesn’t mean the value of art has decreased for our children. According to Americans for the Arts, research shows that exposure to the arts has multiple benefits for children and communities.
- Students who receive 4 years of art in high school score an average of 100 points higher on their SAT when compared to students who receive ½ a year of art classes or less.
- Children who are exposed to the arts and have opportunities to explore them have lower drop-out rates for school and higher GPAs.
- Art education helps to create a stronger workforce. Creativity is ranked among the top 5 applied skills that employers and leaders in business search for in applicants – 72% say it is of high importance.
- Exposure to the arts can build bridges between cultures, regardless of gender, age, or ethnicity.
If your child attends a school that doesn’t offer a rigorous art program, or if your child seems to be reluctant to explore the arts, there are some easy and effective ways to bring art into your home and the life of your child.
1. Expand your definition of art. If you or your child is intimidated by art, remember that art comes in many forms and doesn’t require that your child be the next Rembrandt. Besides the basics you might think of as art, such as painting, drawing, and sculpting, art includes
- Public performances such as acting
- Yard and nature art
- Clothing designs
- Metal-works and welding
- Much more!
2. Create low pressure situations with high opportunities for success. If you sign up for community or private art classes, make sure they are age and attention-span appropriate, and start small.
3. Take classes with your child, and let your child decide which ones. Don’t expect your son to love the pottery class you do, but be willing to enthusiastically attend the digital photography course with him.
4. Introduce your child to art mentors – people who are masters at their crafts and excited to share their experiences with children. My daughter took a nature photography class from a local photographer, and attended with her aunt who could share her interest and passion.
5. Watch YouTube with your kids. People put a surprising amount of valuable art-related lessons online in order for others to learn. It is how I learned to make corsages and boutonnieres for my daughter’s spring formal, and how she learned to make headbands out of recycled materials. If you can dream it, you can find a free video online that will give you tips.
6. Take your kids to the library and explore the craft book section. One of my sons loves to check out random books that have everything from nature crafts to art with machines, and they have wonderful selections with instructions easy enough for the kids.
7. Find an art crawl and take the kids for a road trip. We’ve done this, driving along to different stops on a mapped route where we got to meet artists in their environments, including a woodworker, inker, painter, photographer, sculptor, and many more amazingly talented individuals.
8. Experience art with your kids by taking them to the theatre and concerts. There are programs specifically designed for even the youngest audience members and there are often educator discounts that parents can obtain for special days designated for education. See if you can get a backstage pass – the arts in theatre and music couldn’t happen without the backstage crew.
9. Organize a neighborhood art show or have your kids put one together with their friends. It can be a neighborhood block party that brings families together and helps encourage various forms of art.
10. Keep an art box ready for whenever the mood strikes (or in our home what we refer to as the “craft closet”). Even a plastic dishpan can hold a great amount of supplies. Include things like
- String, yarn, embroidery thread, laces, and more
- Tape of all stickiness and kinds (double stick tape is a favorite)
- Craft sticks
- Cardboard scraps
- A recipe box for homemade clay and paint recipes
- Buttons (I keep all of those ‘extra’ buttons that are attached to new shirts)
- Odds and ends like rubber bands, packaging materials, and anything your children might find appealing
When you introduce your children to opportunities with art, their minds can stretch and grow in ways you might never imagine. Not only does it help prepare them academically, but you just might be opening a door to a hobby your children will treasure for years to come, or even a future career path.