This summer, 6-year-old Uma Manning and her brother, 10-year-old Jackson, took a week-long art camp at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Uma’s teacher was so impressed with Uma’s work that she pulled her parents aside to tell them. “We were very pleased with the news, but initially we thought that’s what is said to every parent,” Uma’s dad, Scott, said. “However, when we saw Uma’s work at the end of the week, we knew that Uma had a gift. We were aware of her talents as she is always drawing at home, but this was the first time she was able to explore with acrylic paints, and she took to it very well.”
Even if your child isn’t the next Monet, the introducing them to the arts is still so important. It allows children to flourish, both mentally and emotionally. “Allow your child the freedom to experiment and the ability to express themselves without the pressure to be perfect or to fit into a mold,” Carole Eney, preschool mixed media instructor at the Indianapolis Art Center, said.
Visiting museums or other venues that offer arts programs, visual or otherwise, can stimulate creativity and curiosity by encouraging young people to wonder and discover. According to Preston Bautista, Director of Audience Engagement at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, these experiences can provide an early foundation for understanding how the arts and creativity can be a lifelong resource for learning and inspiration.
Even if your child isn’t the next Monet, the introducing them to the arts is still so important. It allows children to flourish, both mentally and emotionally.
“I believe that listening to music, attending a play or going to an art museum can inspire children in a way that few other things can,” said Hillary Blake, Director of Education at Meridian Music, whose arts specialty is in musical training and performance. “When I ask parents why their child chose to learn a specific instrument, parents will often say it is because the child became fascinated when they saw and heard it being played well live.”
There are also ways to introduce children to the arts and express creativity at home. All children have a creative side, so parents should expose them to whatever is available – even if it is dancing around the house or singing in the car. Then observe what children enjoy doing at home so you know which arts-related activities to focus on, suggested Dr. E. J. Choe, director of IUPUI Music Academy and Assistant Professor of music and piano. Do they sing or dance to a beat they hear on a TV commercial? Do they show interest in an instrument by banging on a piano or beating on pots and pans? These are all indicators of potential performing-arts interest!
Stephanie C. Fuhrmann, President of Central Indiana Dance Ensemble Board of Directors, said to expose kids to as many different artistic areas as early as possible. These could be art classes (playing with Play-Doh, clay, paint), music classes (singing, rhythm, instruments like bells or shaker eggs that are easy to use and grasp), dance and theatre. “You will find that your child will naturally navigate toward and repeat those items that interest them, even at a very early age,” Fuhrmann said.
Andy Nathan, father to 4-year-old Jesse and 9-month-old Ian, said he always keeps instruments out at home just so his kids can get their hands on them at any time. “When our sons see an instrument, they are more inclined to play with it and engage with music,” Nathan said.
Lesley Semo, mom of 3-year-old Claire, agrees that it is never too early to start your kids in the arts. “I was still taking ballet class until about a month before I had Claire, so even though she was in the womb, she could hear the music and feel how I moved to it,” Semo said. “My friend, who was my ballet teacher during my pregnancy, is convinced that is why Claire just loves to dance. Claire dances in grocery stores, at restaurants, anywhere she hears music. I truly believe it is her first love.”
“Having access to art education both in school and at the Indianapolis Art Center has given my children so much joy and helped to build their own confidence,” Patrick Flaherty, parent to 6-year-old Emma and 3-year-old Claire, said. “Whether or not they choose to work in the arts or become artists is entirely up to them, but wherever their stories take them, their experiences with art will serve as one of the many foundations on which to build a successful and healthy life.”