By Gi Hallmark
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” –Pablo Picasso
In this technology-focused era with over scheduled days, excessive workloads for students and parents and trimmed school budgets, it’s easy to ignore the importance of art in child development.
This importance doesn’t hinge on whether a child has “talent”, rather it’s about “creativity” and fostering a child’s ability to express themselves and create a meaningful experience. Through these meaningful experiences, whether by art, sports, or music, they develop cognitive, social, problem-solving, communication and emotional skills-key ingredients for developing a healthy child.
According to Geneviève Chartrand-Balcer, art teacher at Charlotte’s Elon Park Elementary School, the three top benefits of exposing kids to art a young age are creating confidence, developing motor skills, and experiencing and sharing joy.
Adds Chartrand-Balcer, “Art making gives children a sense of completion and pride in their work, especially when they made several of the choices involved in the work. As an art teacher, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a student who might struggle in other disciplines excel in art and feel proud and confident in their abilities. This translates to younger children who are still at home too, as art offers them opportunities to create something on their own. Fine motor development is a very important benefit, especially given that young children are more immersed in screen-based technology now than ever. Art making, whether sculpting, painting or drawing, allows them to practice and gain fine motor skills. Lastly and possibly most importantly, making, giving, and displaying art creates a sense of joy in both children and adults alike. Displaying art allows the viewer little moments of joy, whether via the memory of making or the feeling the piece might offer. Giving art away as a gift is a way to create joy two-fold, and is a wonderful concept to introduce to young children. Finally, making art from the heart has the special ability to transport the artist to a happy place, a meditative state of focus and joy!”
Parents can encourage children to participate and get interested in art in a variety of ways.
At home, having art supplies available and accessible is vital in engaging children. Though art can get messy and supplies can create clutter, accessibility and freedom to create are important variables in the art process. Chartrand-Balcer also recommends that parents get involved, whether taking the time to create art with your kids or viewing art at one of Charlotte’s local museums, parental involvement determines how much art a child is exposed to outside of school.
Fortunately, here in Charlotte, there a multiple venues available for art viewing and participation. In particular, in addition to the rotation of dynamic exhibits, The Mint Museum Uptown offers an amazing hands-on family gallery where children can spend hours creating art using a plethora of available supplies and blocks.
At the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, access to art is affordable, with free admission for children under 10 and a reasonable $4 for youth 11-18. Bechtler offers a unique perspective of mid-century modern art, here children can challenge their conventional notions of art and visualize art from a modern perspective.
Charlotte also offers a wide selection of children’s art classes for budding Picassos. Here is a sample of 12 area businesses and organizations who offer a variety of art classes:
1. Small Hand Big Art - www.smallhandsbigart.com
2. Noah’s Art – www.noahs-art.com
3. KidzArt – www.kidzart.com
4. The Art Room – www.cometotheartroom.com
5. Dish it Out – www.dishitout.net
6. Carolyn’s Art - www.carolynsart.com
7. Charlotte Fine Art Gallery – www.charlottefineart.com
8. Charlotte Art League – www.charlotteartleague.org
9. Community School of the Arts – www.csarts.org
10. Holt School of Fine Art – www.holtschooloffineart.com
11. YMCA – www.ymcacharlotte.org
12. Christina Palmer Art Studio – www.christinapalmerartstudio.com
Whether you sign your child up for a class, take them to the museum, or sit in the driveway with sidewalk chalk, participate and engage in art with your children. These experiences will foster a deep and rich inner growth in children that you will not regret As Picasso said, “The important thing is to create.”