The world is a child’s oyster, filled with unknown experiences and activities to explore. And with so many opportunities presented to a child, it’s difficult to know just what he or she will embrace.
Sports, gymnastics, music lessons and dance are always popular. But what about introducing your child to art? And more specifically, drawing?
You might be thinking, “We’ve already tried drawing, and it’s not for us. Just take a look at my walls.”
But the truth is, it’s never too early to tap into your child’s creative side.
Guillermo Piloto, an art teacher at the Miami Children’s Museum and illustrator of the children’s book “Clutter Cut, Inc.,” couldn’t agree more.
He leads classes titled “Mini Masters of Art” for children ages 15 months to 3 ½ years that introduce young children to artists, such as Vincent van Gogh, George Seurat, Pablo Picasso and many others, and their techniques.
Piloto said the perfect age range to introduce art is 15 months to 5 years because “kids are so spontaneous, and they don’t feel that they are being judged yet, so they try new things.”
And there are other benefits to painting and drawing at an early age.
Mark Marderosian, a professional cartoonist and illustrator with more than 25 years of experience, including developing art and illustrations for numerous media and toy companies such as Walt Disney Productions, Universal Theme Parks and Hasbro toys, said, “drawing is key to a child’s creative development and their ability to express themselves. Drawing and painting also helps eye and hand coordination, and encourages creative and imaginative play.”
It can also help a child with focus and self-control.
National award-winning author and illustrator, Janeen Mason agrees that “there’s a calmness that comes over you when you are focusing on what you are trying to capture. [And] when you come back from that zone, things are calmer. It’s kind of like a meditation at any age.”
Marderosian, who is also the host of the award winning television series and newly released DVDs “Drawing With Mark,” agrees that drawing can take a child into his or her own world. When children draw, they “begin writing their own scripts and most especially start writing dialogue for their characters. This helps them with sentence structure and creative writing and plotting.”
Piloto said art not only enhances a child’s writing ability, but it can also expand a child’s vocabulary when learning about colors.
“[It] helps with social skills when having to explain their artwork to others,” he said.
But what if your child is not interested in art?
It’s OK Marderosian, said.
“In many ways, [art] is no different than playing sports or the piano or ballet,” he said. “It’s good to try many different things, and then if it’s something they want to continue to pursue, they will.”
Mason couldn’t agree more.
Someone can show you how to use paints and pastels.
“But learning takes place in between classes,” Mason said. “Let your child discover it; don’t push it.”
How can a child begin tapping into his or her creative side?
1. Keep the opportunity available. It’s as simple as having a box of crayons and paper at hand.
2. “Tools” are everywhere. Nothing expensive or “fancy” is needed to be creative.
3. Discuss different ways to look at everyday objects.
4. Let your child discover a love of art; don’t push it.
5. Get your child involved in art programs at local museums.
6. Watch instructional videos with your child, such as Mark Marderosian’s “Drawing With Mark.”
7. If a child continues to exhibit a strong interest, then drawing lessons can be helpful.
How does drawing help children?
1. It encourages children to be more observant of details.
2. Helps with focus and patience.
3. Encourages children to express themselves and helps with vocabulary.
4. Strengthens the brain in critical thinking for math and the sciences
5. Helps children with sentence structure, creative writing and plotting.
6. Children can discover who they are through drawing; it creates personality.
7. Builds self-confidence and expression.
Art instruction in South Florida
1. Miami Children’s Museum (miamichildrensmuseum.org). Art classes for ages 18 months to 10 years.
2. Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale (moafl.org). Drawing and painting curriculum for children in grades five through 12.
3. Art House of Delray (arthousedelray.com). Youth classes and camps.
5. Young At Art Institute in Davie (youngatartmuseum.org). Drawing, painting, cartooning and more for ages 5 to 17.
Chrissie Ferguson is a freelance writer and the mother of three young boys. She is also the director of children’s ministries at the Royal Poinciana Chapel in Palm Beach. Read her mom blog at soundoflittlefeet.blogspot.com