“I didn’t know I was an artist,” a young child happily announced to his mom, as he ran up to her at dismissal time, excited to share his experience in art class. He was visiting our school for the day as part of our registration process, and clearly enjoyed the art lesson, where he dabbled in new mediums, and received much encouragement and support for his efforts. It was thrilling to witness this child’s excitement, but at the same time, disappointing to acknowledge that enriched art classes are not a part of the school experience for many children. Subject-specific teachers for ‘the arts’, which includes visual art, music, and drama have been reduced at many schools in recent years.

If parents feel that their child is not receiving sufficient exposure to ‘the arts’ at school, consider incorporating art activities at home. Chat with your child to learn where his/her interests lie. Why not visit an art gallery, or attend a pottery or ceramics class with your child? Musical performances or local theatre presentations are other exciting options you and your child may wish to consider.
Have some creative fun at home and experiment with various types of art supplies. For example:

1) Pick up some materials at a craft store and set up an area in your home where your child can experiment with paint, charcoal, and pastels. Provide a variety of types and textures of paper, including recycled paper, cardboard from the back of boxes, or any material which has interesting textures and colours.

2) A number of materials which may be found around your home can generate hours of fun and creativity, such as wool, thread, fabrics, buttons, sequins, ribbon, gift wrap, feathers, pine cones, glue, sawdust, eggshells, and more. Creating a collage is always fun! Remember to frame special projects that your child creates, and proudly display them on a wall in your home.

3) It is important to provide support, while at the same time giving your child the space and materials to be creative. Your encouragement and comments can help to guide your child. Try incorporating words such as balance, texture, perspective, colours, harmony, etc. Colour wheels and paint chips from your local paint store are useful tools to learn about complementary colours.

4) Just for fun, ask your child to imagine that he/she is very small or very big, and to draw something from these perspectives. Another idea is to draw something from a dog or cat’s perspective.

5) Artistic expression is all about introducing others to a new way of experiencing colours, shapes, layers within layers, humour, or even a message. Always ask your child to tell you about their work and respond with questions, ideas, and insights.

I will never forget the enthusiasm of our school’s young visitor. If your own child can experience a similar excitement about a musical, art, or drama experience, any effort you put forth will be well rewarded when you witness the joy your child displays when a whole new world opens up for him/her. While many parents feel that learning occurs primarily in school, it is important to note that school experiences tend to be organized in blocks of time. At home, the fun and exploration can go on and on.

Why not pick up a paint brush yourself, try your hand at creating a collage, or design a seasonal wreath for your front door? Working together, side-by-side with your child, will create memorable experiences and a sharing of time well spent. This aptly reflects the expression, “How is love spelled for your child? Time!”
(Oakville Today – Jan. 27, 2011)

Linda Sweet M.S. Ed.
Founder and Director, Glenburnie School
Pre-School to Grade 8
Providing a progressive and innovative private school education