But while we may not necessarily hear about it as much, children also thrive when they are supported and encouraged to be involved with the creative arts.
Getting Your Child Involved
This is the easy part. Kids are naturally creative! Being involved with the creative arts doesn’t mean you have to take your 3-year-old to a Renaissance art exhibit, have violin lessons or go to a Shakespeare festival. There are many age and developmentally appropriate inexpensive and free options:
- Have crayons, paints, clay, blocks and other supplies to make pictures, collages, buildings.
- Move furniture to make room for sing and dance time. Your child will learn about rhythm, timing, harmony and more.
- Use pots and wooden spoons for percussion instruments or have your child try out a guitar or recorder if you have one (supervised).
- Go to the park and point out the different shapes of leaves, different colored flowers, patterns on the bark of a tree. Have your child make patterns with pebbles.
- Walk around your neighborhood and notice the different colors houses are painted. Notice the shapes of street signs. Look for neighborhood murals or even graffiti.
- Check out the Eugene or Springfield public library for creative programs like Lego time, LaneKids event calendar for events like Parent/Tot Creative Movement or free kids events at the community centers.
Your Child’s Individual Creative Self
Don’t force activities on your child, but do give them options.
- Encourage your child to try out different things – are they most interested in music, drama, painting, or writing (for older children)?
- What is your child most interested in? What do they enjoy most? What are they able to focus on best?
- In addition to nurturing interests at home, find out about free classes or programs, art exhibits or concerts oriented for children.
- Remind yourself that children’s interests can change easily – one day painting may be all they want to do and the next week, they won’t even look at the paints.
- Do encourage your child to finish a class or a project they have started, even if they are not as excited as they were at first when the class or project continues. Process and persistence are part of what your child can learn in creative arts.
- If part of the loss of interest is because they feel frustrated at their skill level, give them support for how important practice is to learning a skill and keep their expectations realistic. Praise effort rather than results.
- Give your child support for doing things they enjoy, not just things they excel in. Many people like to draw or play music who are not professional artists or musicians, but they still get lots of enjoyment from the process. Your child is no different – encourage them to enjoy the process of drawing or playing music, without having particular accomplishment goals.
Supporting Your Child’s Creativity
- Be a good audience. Be attentive to all forms of their creations — music, dancing, acting.
- Encourage your child to share, but don’t force them to perform, especially in front of others they may not know well or when they are feeling shy.
- If your child is in a school or community performance, try your best to attend.
- Take into account your child’s age and developmental stage.
- At 2 to 4 years old, artwork will mostly be scribbling.
- At 4 to 7 years old, they might try drawing objects or people.
- Remember each child is different and learns these skills at different rates.
- Is your child learning an instrument?
- Expect noise!
- If they are taking formal lessons, let the teacher provide the critical feedback, while you reward their efforts and practice.
- Art projects can be messy.
- Get aprons or old shirts for your child to put on.
- Place tarps or old tablecloths on the ground so you can clean up easily and avoid conflicts.
- Find activities that encourage pride in your cultural or ethnic, racial, or religious identities.
- Introduce your child to artwork, dance, music, and more that comes from diverse communities, while being respectful of the meaning of these activities to the particular culture.
- Hang up artwork. Take photos of dance performances. Record their music. Not only will they see how proud you are of their efforts, but you will also be creating wonderful memories for the future for you and for them.
Creativity Every Day
Children can and do learn from creative arts. It needn’t be fancy or formal, but it can easily be part of every day whether it’s a collage made from sticks found in the park, a formal tot ballet class, or singing in the bathtub. Encourage your child to find what best suits them and gives them enjoyment now and they will enjoy a creative mind throughout their lives.
This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors, Tova Stabin, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com). Parenting Now! is passionate about happy, healthy families. For more information about Parenting Now! contact us here.
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