7 Ways to Help Kids "Get Art"

Kids are so naturally creative.  Helping kids appreciate art, ensures they continue to develop their imaginations and never lose their creativity.  

Painted by Davis Elliott, Age 10

1.  Read books that include beautiful illustrations and ask children what they like about each of the illustrations.  There are also numerous educational art books on the market which make historical art facts interesting for kids.  For example, "When Pigasso Met Mootisse," by Nina Laden, is a whimsical and heartwarming story loosely based on the friendship -- and rivalry -- of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.

2.  Appreciate your child's artwork they bring home from school and the doodles he or she draws at home.  Admire any form of creativity your child demonstrates.  Did he/she build a cool fort using imaginative materials, or improvise doll house/Barbie furniture, or maybe create a massive free form Legoland city?  There are numerous ways your kid expresses his or her creativity, so make sure you encourage it.

3.  Hit art festivals and art fairs in your local area.  Usually these events are outdoors and include a lot of kid friendly activities, so your job of keeping them interested is simple.  Kids are exposed to a variety of crafts, art mediums, artists and music while enjoying their local cities' foods (always a winner) and culture. 

4.  Visit art museums.  I admit that I was lucky on this one as my kids loved to visit every art museum in every big city we visited--The Met in New York, The Chicago Art Institute, etc.  But even if your kids aren't excited about museum visits, some offer kid friendly events and classes.  You might also create a scavenger hunt for them throughout the exhibits.  With a task in mind, kids will move through the museum focused on their goal and subconsciously absorb "art" as you visit the installations of your choice. 

5.  Enroll your kids in local art classes.  Resources include private art studios, city or county programs, public galleries and studios and local theaters.  For example here in Northwest Arkansas, we have Arts Theater Live, The Nadine Baum Studios, Crystal Bridges, The Artists Retreat Center and The Art Location to name just a few.  All of these and more offer class opportunities for children (and adults).

6.  Host or "Book" an Art Party.  A unique birthday party idea allows kids to create their own "masterpiece" and take it home at the end of the party.  You can use almost any idea!  Paint a canvas--any theme, do a craft, tie dye a t-shirt, or do a mosaic.  If you don't feel comfortable hosting the event, hire a studio or professional to do it for you,  For example, The Art Location will conduct and staff the entire event at their studio--so there in no clean-up for you! 

7.  Remember that there are almost countless ways for your kids to experience and appreciate "art."  Music lessons, dance lessons, pottery making, attending theatrical performances, listening to a story-teller, acting lessons, collage-making, even gardening are just some of the ways you can connect kids to art. 

So get out there and enjoy "art" with your kids.  Appreciating art expands children's problem solving abilities by improving the performance of their right side brain.  Not only is art fun, but it's extremely beneficial.  I'll explain more about this aspect of art in a future blog! 

Because remember....Art Changes Us. 

Shawna C Elliott is an independent artist and interior decorator.  Shawna currently lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas where she teaches art classes to children and adults. http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/shawna-elliott.html

Shawna C Elliott is an independent artist and interior decorator.  Shawna currently lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas where she teaches art classes to children and adults. http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/shawna-elliott.html