When people ask: “Why should I send my child to art classes?” I’m not even sure where to start when it comes to all the benefits of art education in children’s development.
The Arts and Australian Education: Realising potential (PDF) written by Robyn Ewing and published by the Australian Council for Education Research (2010) shares a number of studies that highlight the need for arts education, not just for the ‘talented’ but for all children. It also mentions the different intrinsic and instrumental benefits of quality arts education, which include cognitive, attitudinal and behavioural, health, social, and economic benefits.
Ewing also mentioned Arts Corps, a Seattle-based organisation focusing on increasing students’ access to quality arts programming. According to Ewing, Arts Corps “cites tolerance for ambiguity and the ability to think metaphorically as important capabilities in solving problems and fostering creative habits of mind.”
Here are the key creative indicators:
• Imagining possibilities
• Critical thinking
Do you need formal art classes to reap such benefits? No, not at all. If you’re able to provide quality art enrichment activities at home or elsewhere, then your child is already developing these important skills that he or she can gain from art classes. However, if your child is not able to obtain such art-related education in their current routines, then it might be worth considering to find ways to supplement your child’s experiences.
1. Provide a “Maker Space” in your home. It doesn’t have to be a big space. Just a small tray of art and craft materials on a child’s table would be enough. Just make sure that your child is able to access it at any time and they won’t be afraid to ‘make a mess’ in that spot.
2. Make art as part of day-to-day and special activities. Display art at home. Go to art galleries and museums. Give art materials and books as gifts. The more your child is exposed to art, the more it would become part of their lives.
3. Take the time to make art together. Paint, write, colour, sing, dance… Usually, children like to model their parents, so if they see you doing it, they are more likely to follow your lead.
4. Share your support for the arts at your child’s school. Ask about the school’s art program. Encourage them to get artist residencies, run art clubs and art shows, etc if they’re not doing so already. Let them know that this is something that you would like to see as part of your child’s development and education.
5. Consider sending your child to specialist art programs in your local area. Find an art class near you and take your child. There are usually preschool art programs where parent and child can do sensory art together, or consider after school and weekend programs for your school-age child (or even teens!).
If you’re in Adelaide, Australia – let me know if you would like to chat more about an art program that’s suitable for your child. We might just have a place for you at Creative STEAM Studio.
Shai Coggins is a Registered Teacher in South Australia, with a Masters' degree in Teaching and Applied Psychology. She is a practicing artist and a published author. She started Creative STEAM Studio to promote holistic and play-based learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) with a strong literacy focus for kids and families in Adelaide and around the world.