This is a guest post by Brenda Farrell, Director of Applications for Bridgeway Academy
I have five children, all of whom have strengths in art and music. In fact, now that they are grown, four of them have chosen careers in music and visual arts. My youngest child plans to go into a career in the sciences, but is a gifted musician and very creative person.
I am often asked what I did to foster the development of their abilities. My answer has always been: “Nothing, these are God-given gifts!” I am often challenged on this point. Surely there is something I did! Looking back, I realize our family habits and lifestyle choices did foster a love of arts naturally within our family.
The most important way we fostered young artists and musicians is by exposing them and appreciating the arts ourselves! Creativity is an essential part of life. God has displayed his creativity and ingenuity throughout his creation, and learning to appreciate the creative arts is such an important part of appreciating the rich blessings God has given us on earth. And, there are benefits! Not only does art, music, theater, and other visual arts enrich our lives, they also make us smarter, more creative, and improve our ability to communicate and relate to others.
Why Encourage the Arts
Why should your student study the arts? Researchers have found that the arts help students learn to “envision”— that is, how to think about that which they can’t see. That’s a skill that offers payoffs in other subjects as well. The ability to envision can help a student generate a hypothesis in science, for instance, or imagine past events in history class. Apart from a career path in the arts, some of the other benefits of studying the arts are listed below.
The Benefits of Arts Education
- Stimulates and develops imagination and critical thinking, and refines cognitive and creative skills.
- Has a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has proven to help level the “learning field” across socioeconomic boundaries.
- Strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, adding to overall academic achievement and school success.
- Develops a sense of craftsmanship, quality task performance, and goal-setting — skills needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond.
- Teaches children life skills such as developing an informed perception, articulating a vision, learning to solve problems and make decisions, building self-confidence and self-discipline, developing the ability to imagine what might be, and accepting responsibility to complete tasks from start to finish.
- Nurtures important values, including team-building skills, respecting alternative viewpoints, and appreciating and being aware of different cultures and traditions.
How to instill a love of the arts
- Expose your students to art and music. We always make a visit to the art museum in whatever city we visit. By doing this, our children have been more aware of art wherever they are. We find ourselves having conversations about what is and is not art and how blessed we are as humans to be able to express ourselves in so many ways. We also have many conversations about music. My husband loves music and maintains that because we exposed them at a young age to many types of music they did not become obsessed with the Top 40, but love a variety of music. There are many opportunities in every community to listen to live music. The local symphony and music organizations will often allow homeschooled students to attend performances they provide to public school students.
- Expose your student to music lessons and let them try different options, but wait until they ask before you really invest in a quality instrument or instructor. You will know your child has a genuine affinity for music when they push themselves to practice and ask for opportunities for lessons. It is true that practicing is not fun until you obtain a degree of ability, so you might need to push a little bit to get your child to a place where it is more fun and they can really discover their love of making music.
- Talk about it. Talk about what kind of music you like, what kind of art you like, and why people like different types of music. Agree, disagree, discuss, and persuade others to your side. Why is this object aesthetically pleasing to me? How can I get you to understand me better through my creation? What is meaningful? What is beautiful? Don’t be afraid to disagree and allow each person to develop their own view of art and aesthetic sensibility.
- Provide a space. Let your children make a mess. Let them leave projects out to think about and improve them over time.
- Let your students be resourceful. Don’t give them everything they need to create a project that was someone else’s idea. Let them come up with the idea and find materials to create it. This will incorporate more opportunities for creativity and innovation.
- If your student doesn’t think they have any skills in art, provide them with resources to learn the basics. Drawing is a language that can be learned and refined. Art skills can be acquired through a disciplined study of techniques and learning rules, and can also be an opportunity for free-form thinking – where students are challenged to answer questions that only art itself can answer.
It doesn’t take much to expose your child to and develop a love of creative arts. But, it does take some planning and practice. But, as with music and art, practice does help to make perfect!