You’ve probably heard all about the manner in which art education benefits cognitive development in children and how it contributes to creating a foundation for success across all academic subjects. Although these are inarguably positive benefits, there are many additional reasons to introduce your kids to art at an early age that go well beyond cognitive development and the establishment of an educational foundation. You might remember from your own childhood experiences that art is — and should always be — a lot of fun that represents a perfect opportunity to let your kids be their messy selves while engaging in an enjoyable form of creative expression.
So, how do you introduce art to your kids in a way that is both educational and a whole lot of potentially messy fun?
The following strategies are a great way to start, but it is worth mentioning that every subject is best introduced through the example you set through your day-to-day habits. Simply making art a part of your daily life — whether it is by creating original paintings, discussing art, or incorporating some aspect of art into something else entirely — will go a long way toward ensuring that your kids are introduced to a subject that will remain a permanent and important part of their lives going forward.
Begin With Regular Visits to Museums and Galleries
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The museum is always a great place to introduce kids to art, and you can maximize this benefit by taking regular visits to museums and galleries while focusing on a specific and age-appropriate subject. Your younger kids might not be ready for more complex discussions, but they are absolutely ready to explore different shapes, angles, and perspectives. Sculptures are especially effective in this regard, so allow your kids to develop their observational skills during these initial visits.
As your kids get older and begin to acquire a more sophisticated understanding of art, return trips to museums and galleries might focus on examining bright colors in modern art, artistic themes or narratives in oil paintings, and the relationships between the subject of a painting and its surroundings. These skills build upon one another and ensure your kids are not overwhelmed by a variety of relatively complicated subjects all at once. Each visit can involve a brief overview of previous concepts before any new concepts are introduced, allowing your kids to feel confident in their knowledge and their understanding of art in general.
Encourage Consistent Practice and Offer In-Home Art Lessons
Of course, your kids have to have plenty of hands-on experience if they are to develop a lifelong passion for art. It is certainly best if you reinforce each museum or gallery visit with an art project relevant to what you and your kids have learned at the museum. Make sure the projects are fun and that your entire family participates in the project, as your kids are simply more likely to retain what they have learned and will be more excited about future projects if they know that the whole family will be involved.
Provide Ready Access to Educational Art Materials
Kids really have to be able to explore a creative subject on their own, and they should be able to do so on a whim if they so choose. You can do this by keeping an array of art materials throughout the house — but make sure you limit access to any potentially messy materials that might require your supervision — so your kids can practice whenever the spirit happens to move them. This type of unstructured experimentation is of profound importance, as kids really enjoy this sense of autonomy and are more likely to develop a deeper interest in the subject if they feel a sense of ownership over all of their artistic efforts.