Not only are the arts an enjoyable way to pass time, they provide important opportunities for children to expand their creative thinking, express themselves, and learn more about the world. The arts provide children with skills they can use in their academic and personal lives, and are often just plain fun. Here are five easy ways to introduce the arts to your child at a young age.
1. Provide tangible materials (and time) at home.
Art supplies can be as simple as paper, scissors, and crayons, or can include more specific materials like watercolors and clay. Don’t forget household objects as well, like old magazines, twigs and leaves, Popsicle sticks, and uncooked pasta. You might provide a designated space for these materials, as well as a designated time—during the day or week—so children can become familiar with the artistic process. After an art project is complete, consider choosing an area on the refrigerator or wall for your child to display his work, which shows that his art is valued and creates opportunities for dialogue around it.
2. Interact with a variety of music.
Music is an excellent way for children to get into the arts, especially if they respond well to auditory activities. Expose your child to a variety of music—not just music for kids, but artists and albums that you enjoy as well, instrumental and otherwise. Encourage your child to interact with the music, dancing to it or creating her own songs with instruments (there are even projects to build your own instruments at home!). Check out family-friendly concerts in your community, such as at your local library, school, or park.
3. Read and pull ideas from books.
Books are some of the most imaginative spaces we can experience. Read with and to your child daily. Expose him to a variety of genres—including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and graphic novels/comic books—but also, encourage him if he latches onto a specific genre, author, or series. Books are often a natural stimulus for children’s own work, places where they get ideas to write stories, songs, poems, or even plays. Consider gathering ideas or prompts from books you read together for your child’s arts and crafts time at home.
4. Visit a museum.
Museums may be intimidating, but they can also be very fruitful spaces that both you and your child can enjoy. Visit children’s museums, which are kid-friendly and often interactive; don’t shy away from art museums as well. Prep your child for what to expect at “grown-up” museums, and ask her questions during the visit: “What do you see? What do you think is happening in the painting? What do you like the best?” You can play the “I Spy” game with your child, create or discuss the backstory of the artwork, or find ways to connect what your child sees to her own experiences.
5. Check out opportunities in your community.
There may be art or music lessons (one-on-one or small groups), classes or camps, or one-time events and festivals in your community. Your local library may have weekly or monthly arts-oriented activities that you can take advantage of to learn more and meet new folks in the community. Libraries are also likely to have resources for other activities you might want to experience around town.
Children are never too young to start developing and exploring their artistic sides. The great thing about the arts is that they are all interconnected and build off each other. As children grow older, their experience of the arts can grow and change with them.
Lisa Low is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.