Parent to parent, let’s talk about art for our kids. While at my day job I’m CREATE’s Deputy Director, I’m also the parent of an elementary schooler and a middle schooler, so I understand the value of arts education both personally and professionally.
Let’s face it, in our current era the arts are usually the first thing on the chopping block as schools tighten their budgets and increase their focus on testing. But providing a well-rounded education and important developmental building blocks means including, and indeed increasing, our children’s access to the arts. And the benefits of art education are amazing! Don’t believe me? Check out these great facts and statistics!
First great stat: Students who study art are 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and 3 times more likely to be awarded for school attendance.1 How cool is that? New art skills for your child and bragging rights for you!
Another great stat: Students who take four years of arts and music classes score an average of over 150 points higher on the SAT than students who take only one-half year or less.2 Wow! Valedictorian, here we come! College applications? No worries!
And one more before we move on: Arts education experiences reduce the proportion of students in school receiving disciplinary infractions by 3.6 percent.3 Fewer infractions mean more time to learn, to create, and to have fun!
So now that we’ve established that art education is important and necessary for our children, let’s look at some ways that we can ensure that they receive supplemental art education outside of school.
Go with the Pros!
We would be remiss if we didn’t immediately mention one of the easiest ways to provide supplemental arts education. Come to us! As an arts organization that has been providing high quality visual arts education to children and adults in the DC metro area for over 35 years, we’re pros at what we do. We have visual arts classes for children ages 5 through late teens. Our classes cover everything from the basics for beginner artists to advanced groups for high school students prepping professional art portfolios for internships and college applications.
Our afterschool, evening, and weekend art classes allow children to take a deeper journey into the world of the visual arts. Most in-school art classes meet once a week, are about 45 minutes long, and can have as many as 30 students in one classroom. While we do appreciate any art education that school is able to provide, the depth and breadth of CREATE’s art education classes gives students a solid foundation in the arts, and the beginning of a lifelong skill, hobby, or even just an appreciation for the medium.
But you may ask, “I don’t live in the DC metro area so how am I supposed to access CREATE’s amazing arts programming?” It’s probably not practical for us to suggest that you pick up and move across the country solely to take advantage of the aforementioned amazing arts programming. Luckily, nonprofit arts organizations, art schools, and other art programs in your area are just a Google search away! See what’s out there, make a few calls, stop by for some site visits; you will be amazed by the amount of talented and creative teaching artists who love to share their craft with students of all ages.
Art at Home!
Sometimes schedules, budgets, and life, in general, make it difficult to provide out-of-school art classes for our children. Fortunately, we live in a golden era of online content (okay, it has its downsides too, but we’ll save that for a different blog post). Supplementing art education at home has never been easier.
For those of you whose response to the above is “I’m no art teacher, I’m not an artist, I can’t teach art to my child!” Please don’t take offense, but you’re wrong! Everything from age-sorted individual art projects to online step-by-step art curriculums are available and easy to find online. And that doesn’t even count video content! For those among us who falsely believe they are not “artistic” or “creative,” YouTube has a seemingly infinite pool of step-by-step art project videos. Let the person behind the computer screen run the lesson while you sit back and keep an eye on the creative process.
If you would like to keep at-home art as less of an internet-led experience, pick up some books of art techniques, grab some materials from your local art supply store, and work your way through the book side-by-side with your child. There is a huge array of art books that cover everything you will need to know to lead your child on an artistic journey. An intro to drawing book or a book of painting techniques is an excellent place to start. An added bonus of using art technique books is that you will find yourself learning right alongside your child! At CREATE we emphasize that art is for everyone and every age, so it’s never to late for you to discover a new hobby.
Art with Friends!
Building directly off of the above suggestions for supplementing your child’s art education at home, why not do the same but with friends along for the ride! Consider forming a group of like-minded parents and children to create in an informal art group. An art group lets parents share organizational and teaching duties, while giving children the benefit of learning art alongside their peers. While our professional teaching artists skillfully navigate groups of 8, 10, or 12 students (we don’t like to go above 12, as small class sizes are one of the benefits of semi-private lessons), up to 6 students of similar ages is probably about as large a group as can be easily guided in a home setting. A key point to keep in mind – the more kids, the messier the experience! CREATE and other art schools are spaces designed to get splattered with paint, splashed with wet clay, and marked up with sharpies. Chances are, your formal dining room is not! When figuring out your logistics, please keep in mind that you will want an easily cleanable space and access to sinks. Wrap up each art lesson by putting the kids in change of the cleanup while the parents sit back and relax!
I hope in the time it took you to read this blog post, you have become convinced about the importance of a solid art education and background for your child. Hopefully, the tips above will help guide you as you guide your child through their artistic journey. If you have any questions, we’re here to help! We welcome your emails, phone calls, and visits to CREATE. We love art and love to talk about art! Please reach out to us at 301-588-2787 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop in to see us for a chat and a tour!
1. National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, “Re-Investing in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools.”