Now that summer is winding down and the new school year is ramping up, perhaps this provides an ideal opportunity to set aside some family time to enjoy the arts. Research shows that the benefits of exposing children to the arts at a young age is nothing to be scoffed at. It’s widely accepted that the arts and art education programs increase children’s cognitive abilities and even improve test scores, but the benefits of exposure to the arts are more extensive than one might think.
Art is a great way to alleviate daily stresses and calm the savage beast. Painting, drawing, and even dancing are ways to relax and express feelings – kids included! Through creating art, children learn to problem-solve in creative ways. By viewing the arts, children learn about other cultures around the world and experience new perspectives. In fact, children exposed to the arts even show a higher level of social tolerance and empathy.
Families are finding ways to blend valuable art experiences into summer fun! Here are a few ideas to try today:
1. Take a day outdoors to draw! Pack lots of paper, markers, colored pencils, and pastels for a day of observational drawing at the park. Kids of any age can be encouraged to simply “draw what you see.” Focus on the process rather than the result!
2. Visit your local art museum. Many museums have children’s workshops and regular guided tours designed for young viewers. Encourage your child to talk about art pieces – likes and dislikes and possible stories behind each piece. Have fun and explore!
3. Dance it out! Dance is a great way to express ideas and feelings. Children are naturally creative and sometimes just need a physical outlet to express themselves. Challenge your child to create a short dance routine that illustrates the four seasons. Get the whole family involved and make it a collaborative project!
4. Make a mess! Spread large pieces of paper out in the grass and take some time to get sloppy. That’s right – with finger paints, watercolors, and smocks; the whole nine yards. The creative process can be transformative, and that may require stepping out of the parenting comfort zone.
5. Display your children’s work with pride. Creating something meaningful is a great confidence builder. Encourage your child to persevere and finish a piece, then frame it elegantly and display it in a special place in your home as a valuable treasure.
Most importantly, enjoy the journey together and have fun. The arts can provide a space for family bonding, enriching learning experiences, and creating memories that will last a lifetime!
Heidi Walker is an educator and college writing coach