Did you know that simple, creative art activities are a great way to help your child’s development? Drawing, painting and sculpting develops children’s fine motor skills, meaning the coordination of small muscles. It also encourages inventiveness and sharpens critical thinking skills.
Here are some tips to help your child get the most of out of the visual arts:
GO ON A TRIP
A visit to a local museum or art gallery can help your children develop language skills. Talk about the artwork as you look at it together and watch their minds expand. For example, you can ask your young child, “What shapes and colors do you see?” or “What do you like or not like about this piece of art?”
You can ask an older child, “What kind of story do you think the artist wanted to tell?” or “How would you tell the story if you were the artist?”
Palm Beach County is rich in affordable, quality arts programs. Here are few places to start:
- Center for Creative Education, in West Palm Beach, 561-805-9927
- Norton Museum of Art, in West Palm Beach, 561-832-5196
- Cultural Council for Palm Beach County, Lake Worth Beach, 561-471-2901
Children often are relieved to learn there is no right or wrong answer in the visual arts. For example, there are endless ways to draw a tree or sculpt a person. This means that differences can be celebrated, and that helps children understand themselves in the broader worldview.
So pick up some paper and crayons or markers, sit down with your children and do a little drawing together. They’ll notice that both of you drew a tree, a butterfly or a house, but your drawings may look very different – and that’s totally OK.
OPEN THEIR EYES
When children are open to the perspectives and viewpoints of others, they improve their problem-solving skills while deepening their ability to empathize — putting themselves in other people’s shoes. This is a vital skill to encourage so they can build strong relationships with friends, siblings, parents, teachers and others. So when exploring art, whether wondering through a museum or reading a library book, try talking about the artist’s point of view and see what kind of wonderful discussions that spurs.
These easy steps emphasize that visual art — in fact, all art — is essential to the development of the whole child academically, spiritually, socially and emotionally.
Trish Halverson is the former manager of arts and cultural education for the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County.
Art makes you smart: Art has a profound effect on the lives of young people and their educational experience. Students with an education rich in the arts have lower dropout rates and higher GPAs and standardized test scores. They also are four times more likely to participate in a math and science fair, three times more likely to win an award for school attendance and three times more likely to be elected to class office.
• Americans for the Arts (“10 Reasons to Support the Arts”)
• Institute of Education Sciences (“Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning”)
• National Endowment for the Arts (“The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth”)