Five Ways to Make the Arts Part of Your Child’s Everyday Life

When the arts and creativity are part of family life, as well as the classroom, everyone wins.

Arts activities can deepen family bonds, provide lifelong memories, and enhance children’s learning. Read on to learn tips to spark your child’s creativity and deepen her interest in the arts — it’s never too late to get started.

Tip 1: Create Time and Space for the Arts

Creating the time and space for your child to paint or draw, play music, write a poem, or do other arts projects can help ignite her creative spark. Kids need regular creative time, free of organized activities and obligations, where they can make art, experiment … or just daydream.

On the flipside, the development of good practice habits is also an art in itself. Whether your child is just starting music classes or is intent on becoming a “world class” performer, establishing a regular schedule and place to practice can make a tremendous difference.

When setting up a creative space, even if it’s temporary, try to make sure it’s comfy, well-lit, and stocked with crayons, markers, paper, musical instruments, or “found objects” that can be used in the art-making process. And while you want to make sure she has ample time to create her art, you also want to be sure to set aside enough time for clean-up … just like they do at school.

Tip 2: Celebrate Your Child’s Artwork and Artistic Process

The arts offer valuable opportunities for self-expression and can help children gain confidence in their abilities and ideas. They also provide great opportunities for children to share and reflect on what they know and think.

Hang your child’s artwork on a wall or refrigerator, or create a “gallery space;” encourage her to perform for you and have a family talent show or exhibition. Talk to her about her process. Ask her open-ended questions about her creations and encourage her to talk about her artistic thinking. And try not to judge. The process of creating the work — and the effort put into the process — is at least as valuable as the product, and, for many kids, more so.

Tip 3: Take Family Trips to Museums and Performances

Kids are never too young, or too old, to be introduced to museums, the theater, summer concerts, puppet shows, and more. Children who are engaged in arts and culture at a young age are more likely to continue to be engaged as adults. Community and cultural institutions often offer low-cost or free family workshops or days to visit. Check out their websites, local newspapers, and parent blogs for age-appropriate activities. Talk with your child about the experience before, during (when appropriate), and after. Share your thoughts, listen to hers, and encourage her to continue learning and thinking about the art and experience after you are back home.

Tip 4: Notice the Arts All Around and Start a Conversation

Be on the lookout for art in public spaces. Parks, building lobbies, and subway stations often have murals, sculptures, and other art that can inspire imagination, conversation, and creativity. Local architecture can also be quite amazing, inspiring a passion for history and design.

Ask your child what she notices about the art around her and encourage her to ask questions, too. You don’t need to have all the answers. Start a conversation about what you experienced together, how it made you feel, or what the artist may have intended. Share art, dance, and music from your culture, as well as other cultures, with your children. Use the arts to celebrate and teach them about holidays, history, and cultural beliefs and practices.

For more suggestions for activities, check out these articles about sneaking art and music into your family's everyday life.

Tip 5: Read Books

As is true for all subject areas, reading is key to increasing knowledge and understanding and to fostering curiosity and good work habits. This is particularly true for the arts.

Read picture books with your young children. Ask them to identify colors, shapes, objects, and more. Sing-a-long with story book songs and bring characters in the books to life with your voice, facial expressions, and so on. Invite your child to act a story out. And as your children get older, keep reading to them and with them. Encourage independent reading and a mix of fiction and non-fiction. There are great books about musicians and artists that can serve as an inspiration to children of all ages. Ask the librarian at your school or public library for suggestions. And make sure to show your love of reading by reading for yourself. Let your children see your pleasure in a good book.

Following these helpful tips can help enrich the lives of your whole family and set a great example for your child. Remember, kids like to emulate their parents and other adults they admire. When you show an interest and appreciation for the arts and culture, your child is likely to develop similar interests and make the arts a part of her everyday life.

Follow this link to learn about the proven benefits of an arts education.

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