I grew up as an athlete. Art did not play an important part of my life. But I want it to be part of my son’s life. And as a parent, I know that If I want my child to appreciate art, he must be given the opportunity to appreciate art – at an early age. My goal isn’t for him to become the next Picasso. My goal isn’t even for him to love it. But he deserves the opportunity to appreciate it.
The Benefits Of Art
Making art is more than a creative boost and it’s benefits go way beyond the art room. The act of creating art boosts young children’s ability to analyze and problem solve. Art also helps children improve fine motor skills, fosters alternative thinking, and allows them to dabble in math and science as they use various materials to create. When children create art, it also boosts their self-confidence. With all these benefits, who wouldn’t want this to be part of their child’s life?
Incorporating Art To Our Life
I made the conscious choice to incorporate art into Alexander’s life. Instantly I encountered a problem, I did not know how to start. But like anything new, finding a starting point was the hardest part. So I turned to a friend who I knew could help me.
I consulted my friend and artist Amy Shekhter, a mixed media contemporary collage artist, for some tips on incorporating art into my son’s life. With a masters degree in fine art along with her significant experience working with children as a former art teacher, she was the perfect person to help guide us along. We decided that the best place to start was an artistic play date with the kids. These are the tips Amy taught me throughout the play date.
1. Make Art Relevant
Make art relevant to their lives so they may relate to it. Amy explained “when teaching kids about art appreciation, avoid just focusing on the masters, like Van Gogh, Picasso, but rather introduce them to contemporary art as well. (Contemporary art means art that is being created now) C.A. focuses on things that will be relevant to their lives, and ideas that they will be familiar with. It will help them understand that art can represent an idea or help someone express a feeling.”
2. Be in the Moment
According to Amy, “the most important thing when kids are making art is that they just enjoy the process of making it. They aren’t concerned with what others think about it or how it will look in the end. They are just having fun experimenting with materials or colors and discovering and problem solving.” For them, it is all about the process, not the finished product.
3. Explore Materials
According to Amy, “when it comes to using materials in art, I think it is important to have kids use a lot of different things. It is almost like science, because they can experiment and explore. Don’t just use crayons markers and paint, introduce them to things like foam, Play Doh, clay, mixed media (pipe cleaners, pom poms, beads, cereal, etc), and chalk/pastels. And let them use them how they want (try not to micro manage). This will allow them to discover many things.
For example, if they are mixing paints they will see how mixing two colors can make a whole new color. Or while using glue how the glue might not work with a heavier object or an object that is not flat and they might need to find a different way to execute their vision.”
4. Decorate With Contemporary Art
Amy also suggested decorating Alexander’s room with contemporary art. This would bring the art to him in a fun unique way. Amy makes commissioned pieces to your child’s tastes. So whether it is a ninja turtle, princess, or Minnie Mouse, a custom piece of art in a room will awaken and inspire your child to develop an appreciation for art at an early age.
For us Amy, created a vibrant collage piece of a ninja turtle. It’s become a ritual talking point in my son’s room as he points out the colors and we make up stories to go along with the fantastic life of a ninja turtle.
Creating an art-filled life for my son has been much simpler (and messier) than I expected. As we take one stroke at a time, he absorbs all that he is exposed to. Although most of his pieces are centered around Godzilla, it’s opened a new avenue for him to explore and express himself in the world.
Looking for more indoor activities? Check out 10 Ways To Play Inside When It Rains.