In my experience as a music educator and arts supervisor, parents often ask me what they can do at home to encourage their child’s love for the arts. Recently the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, a statewide arts education service organization dedicated to monitoring and advocating for policy to improve arts education for Ohio’s children, developed Fine Arts Standards Guides for Families. These guides articulate the academic content standards in the arts and advocate for arts education as part of a complete education for Ohio’s children.
Here are some thoughts, tips and activities for simple, easy, no or low-cost activities for parents to do with their children at home included in the Fine Arts Standards Guides and a few of my own for parents to think about.
For young children, stock a designated drawer with a variety of art supplies such as crayons, watercolors, water-based markers, modeling clay, and paper in an assortment of sizes. Use art vocabulary, color, shape, line, and texture in discussing the artwork your child has created. Display their artwork to let them know that you value the artwork they have created.
Go to your community library and borrow a book about musical instruments and help your child identify the instruments by looking at the pictures. Sing and dance with your child encouraging their natural musicality at home. When traveling in the car, discuss symbols and icons that you see. Keep a variety of recyclables (paper tubes, milk caps, plastic bottles, etc.) available for your child to creatively assemble the pieces with masking or packing tape. Read a book and have your child create an artwork reflecting the story or theme. Encourage a love for music by attending musical performances and children’s plays in your area.
For older children, consider allowing your child to take music or dance lessons. If musical instruction is available at your school, encourage practicing and help your child as much as possible to overcome the obstacles of frustration and inexperience that often comes with beginning band lessons. Foster a love for art by visiting an art museum with your child. Ask your child to identify a favorite artwork and discuss why it is appealing.
As your children get older treat their personal musical choices with respect and encourage them to reflect on the choices they are making in musical terms, styles, pieces, or performers. Be willing to discuss your own musical tastes, and share reasons for them. Explore with your children the opportunities in your community to serve as an advocate for the arts.
Active involvement in supporting the arts is easy: volunteer for arts events, becoming a supporting member of a museum, attend concerts and plays, sign up for workshops and classes at your community arts center, patronize businesses that support the arts and local artists, become a patron, and support your local community scheduled arts activities. Parents can make a significant contribution to the love of the arts for their child.