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Parenting

Year Round Creativity: Parent Role in Art Education at Home

This past summer your child may have had the opportunity to participate in a camp that was full of art and music activities. While summer is a great time for enhancing your child's creative experiences, art is an important and fun activity for parents to engage their child in all year round.

MaryAnn Kohl, author of over 20 art books for teachers and children including, "Art with Anything: 52 Weeks of Fun Using Everyday Stuff," discusses why art is an important part in the lives of children provides several suggestions to parents on how to include art in their child's life at home.

Why is it important for parents to include art based activities in their child's life?

In raising a well-rounded child, the arts should be included along with reading, playing actively, eating well, and learning new things. Early exposure to visual art, music, or drama promotes activity in the brain; like exercising a muscle, it will be stronger and more able to handle hard work. Art encourages being inventive and being a critical thinker and adds to development of self-esteem, self-discipline, cooperation, and self-motivation.

What suggestions do you have for parents who are stuck at coloring pages and Playdough?

Art is a creative process, not a pre-planned product. Picture this: A child is given cotton balls, glue, scraps of paper, and a paper plate. These materials become part of a creative experiment for a child as they manipulate and explore the possibilities of a simple collage. There is no planned design or product. There is no right or wrong way for art to turn out; there is only the child's way. And of course, the adult is important in helping find materials that the child can use.

While many families have crayons, paints, and paper in their home, what would you suggest as far as supplies that parents should consider exploring with their child?

Found materials are always treasures for collage, like buttons, beads, thread, pebbles, cotton balls, and on and on; look around the kitchen and garage and you'll be surprised what you find! Kids love sticking things into a block of packing Styrofoam, such as bamboo skewers, golf tees, or pipe cleaners. But a reminder: always use quality crayons, markers, scissors and glue for the best art experiences.

What do you recommend to parents who are worried about turning art into another scheduled activity for their child?

Art in the home should be as natural as the activity of sitting and reading a book or playing a board game. It doesn't have to be time consuming or demanding or messy. Making art an easily accessible quiet activity for children to perform at their leisure and will balance the busy schedules some families keep.

Janine Boldrin is a freelance writer who lives in West Point, N.Y with her family

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