Public school curricula in the United States tend to emphasize the importance of science, mathematics, reading, and writing. The arts—painting, drawing, and pottery classes—tend to get brushed off as optional electives.
Art is Essential
What parents and teachers sometimes fail to acknowledge is that art is in fact essential to a well-rounded education. Art teaches kids the soft skills that mathematics cannot. Art encourages cultural awareness, complex problem-solving, creativity, invention, and innovation. A study by Americans for the Arts even suggests that students who practice art are four times more likely to succeed in other academic subjects and far less likely to drop out of school than students with low art involvement. With that in mind, here are four ways to give your child a head start on their artistic education
Provide Art Materials at Home
Sitting down with your child and having an “art class at home” sounds like a great idea, but might actually discourage creativity (especially if the child feels “forced” to learn.) Toddlers learn and thrive best on experimentation. Give your child access to many varied art materials and wait to see what happens. Chances are, their early creations will be messy. Be patient, and consider keeping the art supplies in a non-carpeted area that is easy to clean. Try switching out different types of materials every few weeks to encourage new ideas and keep the child engaged
Make a Mini Museum for Your Child’s Art
Maybe it’s your refrigerator, maybe it’s a corkboard in your living room. A place to display creations can be a child’s source of pride, as well as an incentive to make more art. Pin a length of twine on any wall and hang your child’s artwork with colorful clips or clothespins.
Provide Illustrated Children’s Books for Inspiration
Imitation is a vital step in child development. Copying is an effective way to inspire toddlers and help them develop the motor skills to paint and draw well. Provide a selection of unique illustrated books, like those at Marcella Kriebel Art and Illustration, for your child to draw from. Encourage them to observe the general colors and shapes of the pictures; guide them away from getting hung up on perfection or copying minute details.
Make a Storybook Together
There are several kits available online for children to create their very own storybook. The kits come with pages for the child to fill with words and drawings. Send off the completed story in an envelope, and in a few weeks the child receives a hardcover storybook that they wrote and illustrated on their own.
With a little ingenuity, parents can replicate this process with a hardcover sketchbook or a spiral binding kit. There are plenty of ways to put your child’s art together so you can keep it for years to come.