15 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Love Art

Even if you don’t have formal training or special talent, you can still nurture the arts in your child. Here’s how:

1. Create a stimulating environment in the nursery or playroom with a colorful room, interesting mobiles and creative toys.

2. When your toddler is ready, give him chunky crayons and large paper to experiment with. As he grows, provide him with a variety of materials and keep them accessible for use at any time – markers, colored pencils, colored paper, large rolls of paper for murals, watercolors, tempera paints, modeling material, ribbons, glitter, wood cuts, nature items, etc.

3. Point out illustrations in children’s books. Talk about colors, shapes and mediums used. Who is the illustrator? What do you know about his life? Are other works of his similar?

4. Look for art all around you. When you are outside, point out trees and the effects of the sun on nature. Comment on the colors of the sunset and design of the clouds. Visit park statues and city murals. Ask your child if he wants to draw what he sees.

Purchase a sketchbook and encourage your child to draw one picture a day using various mediums. Date the top of each page.

6. Do art alongside of your child. Family participation will encourage him to continue.

7. Find books or other resources that give the history of famous artists. Learn about how their lives, the period they lived in and their culture more than likely affected their subject and style.

8. Encourage your child to tell stories with pictures rather than words.

9.  Take advantage of special times such as holidays to incorporate art into your child’s life – create Valentines, dye Easter eggs, carve pumpkins, decorate birthday cakes.

Use your child’s other interests as springboards for art projects. If he likes photography, give him a digital or disposable camera and have him take pictures, make a collage or try to draw a depiction of the image he sees.

When commenting on your child’s art, point out the positive features of each piece and praise the process. Talk about small details of the work: “I like how you used brown there.” This will stimulate conversation about his work.

Encourage your child’s art endeavors by displaying items around the house or hosting a neighborhood art exhibition.

Allow your child the freedom to be carefree and whimsical in his artwork – blue hair or purple trees show creativity and individuality.

 Enroll your child in art classes. This exposes her to a variety of materials and new techniques taught by trained individuals. It also gives her a chance to work alongside others his age.

 Take him to art museums and festivals. Call the museum before you go and ask if they have children’s activities, printed booklets or guides. When visiting festivals, stop and talk with the artists about their styles and techniques. 

Click here for art classes around the Bay Area.

Denise Yearian is the former editor of two parenting magazines. 

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