What Can Parents Do to Encourage Young Children in the Arts?
Take your children to performances and art exhibits.
- All the mid-schools and high schools have concerts and plays throughout the year offered free of charge or at a very low cost.
- Browse through an art gallery or a framing store. Looking is free!
- The “Venue” insert in the Friday morning Albuquerque Journal is a good resource of community arts activities with a special section for children’s events.
- The NM Symphony Orchestra offers a series of free neighborhood concerts at various locations throughout the city. Phone: 881-9590
- The following sites also offer a variety of children’s arts activities throughout the year:
- South Broadway Cultural Center: 848-1320
- Harwood Art Center: 242-6367
- Albuquerque Museum: 242-4600
- ¡Exlplora! Science Center and Children’s Museum: 224-8300
- UNM Music Prep School: 277-8816
Learn how to talk with your children about the arts.
- When looking at a painting or drawing, ask them to:
- describe what they see: colors, shapes, patterns, lines; people, animals, flowers, buildings, mountains.
- tell you how the picture makes them feel; ask them to talk about the features in the picture that make them feel that way.
- tell you about the picture’s setting: time of year, time of day, period of time. How can they tell?
- When listening to a piece of music, ask them to:
- identify the instruments they hear.
- indicate loud and soft sounds, fast and slow melodies, high and low notes.
- tell you how the music makes them feel.
- clap or tap or snap with you to the steady beat of the music.
- dance with you!
- When watching a play or a movie or a television show ask them:
- about the characters: would they like to have a particular character for a friend? Why – or why not? What positive traits can they identify in the character?
- what they thought about the end of the story – and why.
- to imagine a different ending to the story and describe it to you.
- to tell you how the dancing is the same or different from what they usually see.
Listen to a wide variety of music in the car – and listen at home, too.
- “Classical Music for Dummies” is available if you are a parent who does not feel very knowledgeable about classical music. Take advantage of the chance to learn right along with your kids!
- Listen to a variety of music. Ask your children what they like – and don’t like – about each. Share your own opinions, too.
Watch arts programs, videos, or DVDs together as a family.
- Bookstores and movie rental facilities have a wide selection of arts choices for audiences of all ages.
- KNME, the local PBS station (Ch. 5), is always an excellent source of arts programming suitable for children.
Be an enthusiastic audience for your child’s artistic efforts.
- Encourage your children to make up songs, plays, and dances . . . and provide an accepting environment in which they can perform.
- Provide a “wardrobe” of old shoes, hats, dresses, scarves, jewelry, etc. for them to wear in their productions.
- Try to have a ready supply of newsprint, crayons, markers, construction paper, glue sticks and scissors available for their creative art projects.
- Hang your child’s art on the “Metropolitan Refrigerator of Art” – or at your office – or anywhere that it’s sure to be noticed.
- Wear the clay beads your child made for you – even if they don’t match your dress.
Encourage your child to participate in arts activities at school.
- Attend their plays and concerts – even if their role is behind the scenes.
- Attend their art show to see their art on display – even if it’s only one piece.
- Take the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins & neighbors with you to celebrate your child’s accomplishments.
Be accepting and encouraging of your child’s artistic efforts.
- For young children, the arts have no right or wrong answers. They provide avenues for children to feel positive about themselves – and successful about their efforts.
- When asked if you like your child’s work, ask instead if he or she likes it. Comment on specific aspects of what you see (“I really like the colors you chose.” “I can see three different kinds of lines in your picture.”), rather than making judgments (“It’s really pretty!”). For young children, pride in their accomplishments is essential.
- When making art together or making music together, avoid the temptation to do it for them. For young children, the process is often more important than a polished product.
- Rather than trying to guess what your young artist has created, (and maybe guessing wrong), ask your child to tell you about what they’ve created. You might be very surprised at the answer!
APS resources available to parents: