Most parents want their children to be well-rounded citizens of the world, and one way to ensure that happens is to expose them to art, music, dance, theater and literature. Modern living, with movies, electronic devices, social media and other influences, can make acquiring this kind of cultural knowledge difficult. If you introduce your children early enough, however, you may instill in them a lifelong appreciation of the arts.
Introduce your children to art at a young age so they will develop an early appreciation for it. When your children participate in art, they enhance their creativity and skills while also developing themselves emotionally, socially, physically and mentally. Creativity, which is enhanced by participating in artistic activities, leads to innovation. To encourage artistic expression in your child, you can keep basic art supplies around the house, including paint, drawing and coloring materials and craft supplies. Don’t worry about skill; just encourage them to be creative in any manner. You can also take your child to art museums, many of which have special programs that encourage hands-on exploration through child-appropriate activities.
If your children grow up listening to music or singing and dancing, they are exposing their senses to variety, which scientists say increases their cognitive function. They perform better in math and reading and have more focus; other benefits include better developed social skills and more self-esteem. You can take your children to concerts, but ensure they are old enough to know how to behave. Many cities have special musical programs just for kids. While listening and watching are important, active participation in music is best, experts say. Parents can encourage musical development by singing, dancing and humming to tunes at home; have your kids participate too. You can make homemade instruments using pots and pans and wooden spoons. Let them see and get hands-on experience with real instruments like guitars and pianos if possible.
To enhance your child’s curiosity and imagination, encourage an interest in theater. Many cities have special children’s theaters that have performances suitable for a wide variety of ages. Watching theater helps children develop reading skills. Children are born with an interest in play, and theater encourages that interest. You can encourage your child’s interest in theater by installing a “dress-up” box in your house. Fill it with old clothing and accessories. Help him learn to make “sets” and put on shows for you and the family.
Try to take your kids to as many museums, concerts, theater and dance performances and art exhibits as possible. Your child may express an interest in opera, for example, that surprises you. Although you have no way of knowing if it’s just a passing passion, experts say it doesn’t matter. Your child may not become a professional artist or opera singer; the journey is more important than the ultimate outcome. You may just create a lifelong interest in the arts or even their ultimate career path.
- Pennsylvania State University Center for the Performing Arts: Family members and teachers stress benefits of exposing children to the performing arts
- Education.com: How the Art Center Enhances Children's Development
- Education.com: Early Art Exploration
- The New York Observer: Parenting Around the World: An Urban Parent’s Guide to Raising Cultured Children: Art and the City: A Family Affair
- Kids Health.org: Cook Children's Health Care System: Introducing Preschoolers to Music
- Naxos.com: Education: Concert Manners
- Education.com: Why Children's Theater Matters
- One Step Ahead: Pretend Play: The Magical Benefits of Role Play
- PBS.org: Parents: Education: Encouraging Your Child’s Exploration of the Arts
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images