Studies have shown that art education is really beneficial in a child’s development.
Parents who are not artistic themselves might feel nervous talking to their children about art. Or, they might wonder where to start and how. There can also be a general assumption that art is only for a select few, or that it is not a necessary part of a child’s learning and education. Research has definitely proven otherwise.
Here are our top tips to help your child fall in love with art:
1. Start young
It is important to start nurturing a child’s creativity and interest in art from a young age. All children are born with an inherent creativity, and this is when their brains are most plastic. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to form new connections and long lasting functional changes in the brain occur when we learn new things or memorize new information. Did you know that there are 15,000 synapses in the brain of a two or three year old, which is twice as much as that of an average adult brain? As we grow older, some of these are pruned and the ones that have formed the strongest connections are retained. This means that the more stimulation and learning that a young child is exposed to, the more stronger the neural connections in their brains would be, and the longer lasting developmental benefits there would be.
2. Visit Art Galleries
We are so privileged to have so many free art galleries and museums at our doorstep. Children who visit art galleries more often are more receptive to new experiences, and to art and culture. Try and identify some key artworks or sections to explore on a particular visit. Maybe involve children in the decision-making process if they are a little older. Show them pictures of some key artworks before you visit. Another way could be to start from the museum shop and let them choose a postcard or poster that they like of a piece of art in that gallery. When they then find that artwork on the walls of the gallery, they would feel a sense of ownership. It is really important that children begin to experience and understand the effect that art can have on emotions from a young age.
3. Introduce them to art history
Art history is not just about knowing and reciting facts and figures. It is an inter-disciplinary way of framing our past so that the children can seek inspiration in their present and create their own versions of their future. It is also about giving the vocabulary to children so that they can talk about visual images, and also understand the tools and techniques artists used in the past to express certain emotions. Art history is inter-disciplinary as it teaches children about politics, history, chemistry, geometry, design in an integrated framework. Children also learn that there is not one way to art and that it is ok to expand their imagination and do something completely new. Art Explorers boxes bring Art History in a monthly subscription, and gives the children a gradual accelerated learning programme supporting parents in introducing art history to children in a fun and engaging manner.
4. Be Art Detectives for a Day
Art is not just on the walls of art galleries and museums. Why not go out to explore around your city and neighbourhood to find art around you! This will introduce children to some more modern, contemporary art forms such as public art, sculptures and graffiti. This will also help them to start engaging with the world around them, and seeing the surroundings with fresh eyes. Why not ask them to sketch, photograph or create their own versions of these artworks back at home with materials that they collect on your walks?
5. Storytelling through images
Encourage children to create stories and narratives around image that they see in books. Storytelling is a great way of expanding a child’s imagination, organising experiences and extending their creative thinking. By using different sounds and words, children learn how to articulate their understanding of different visual images that they encounter, and these techniques can then be extended to artworks. Looking at art in books and library and encouraging the child to imagine the characters, what they might be doing, why they look like that and how they might be feeling will develop their communication skills too.
6. Challenge Them
While supporting all creative expressions from your child, it is also very important to engage them in a debate. Ask open-ended questions about their own artwork but also the art that you see in books, newspapers and on the streets. This will allow the child to think imaginatively, and develop their critical thinking skills. Rather than just saying that it is beautiful, or that they have done very well, explore as to why they created something, what inspired them, why did they use that colour, and what is happening in the picture. It helps children to understand that different people might read art in different ways, there is a visual language and that their interpretation might be different but not necessarily wrong.
Last, but not least, do not force it. Let them wander in art galleries or sit in a corner and read. Try and engage them but also just let them be and slowly they will begin to explore and discover the joy of spending time with art. Give them the tools and techniques that help them express as they would like.
Remember that knowledge shaped by experience will have a longer-lasting effect.