Guest Author Tilda Moore, openeducators.org
As a parent of a child who learns differently, you spend a lot of time being told, often in the nicest and most well-meaning way possible, about what your child can’t do. You probably spend even more time, however, marveling at what kids CAN do: their special gifts and talents, their unique preferences and styles, and the things that light them up. If you haven’t already done so, encouraging your children to explore and be expressive through the arts can have enormous cognitive and emotional benefits for them.
Exploring Your Options
Every child responds differently to various kinds of learning and challenges. Art, above all, is about expression, so try a few creative areas to discover what type of artistic expression brings out the best in your child. A few areas to try:
- Music: For many children, setting lessons and facts to music makes it easier for them to learn and adds a little fun to otherwise dry academic subjects.
- Visual arts: Visual arts, such as painting, drawing, sculpting, and crafting, help children develop fine motor skills and enhance their understanding of shapes, spatial relationships, boundaries, and solving problems.
- Theater/drama: Acting and performing give children a chance to express themselves without consequences and try different roles in a judgment-free way. It also builds confidence.
- Dance: Dance is an amazing outlet for children to release energy. It allows your child to use his or her entire body to send a message. Dance also teaches valuable lessons about following directions, coordination, motor skills, and balance. For some children, dance helps with counting skills, sequencing, and even understanding directions, such as right, left, up, and down.
Setting the Scene for Greatness
To help your child thrive in artistic endeavors, you can create a dedicated space in your home devoted to your child’s art, be it a crafting area or a mini dance studio. If you can, try repurposing a room in your home that doesn’t currently get much use, such as a spare bedroom or unfinished basement.
A designated place not only gives your children confidence and room to explore their artistic abilities but also sends them the message that you take their expression seriously and are invested in helping them succeed.
Keeping Up the Momentum
Some children who learn differently display exceptional talent in one or more areas of artistic expression, but not every child will. It’s okay if your child isn’t the next Pablo Picasso or if their idea of being creative is different from yours. Art is meant to allow the artist a chance to release any pent-up feelings, so try to step back and respect the process.
Don’t force your child to stick with something that isn’t working, but if you notice a spark, encourage your child to keep going and push boundaries. It may also help to enroll your child in an academic program at Athena Academy that builds on the dyslexic student’s natural picture-oriented learning style and encourages the development of each child’s unique strengths and talents.
Exploring creativity can be an excellent expressive outlet and beneficial learning experience for all children. Helping your child discover their inner artist is well worth the effort.