Every day presents numerous opportunities to celebrate the arts with children.
Let’s play with the word art. Look at the word earth. Look at the word hearth, then at the word heart. Find art. Put a “p” in front and you get part.
There are some Native American and African cultures that have no word for art because art is part of everything. The arts connect to all celebrations, rituals, seasons and life events.
Now, put an “a” in front of part and you will see apart. Sadly, we, in this Western culture, tend to separate ideas that really go together in harmony. Our children study history, literature, science, math and art. But those subjects need not be disconnected. For example, study of academic topics such as the 19th-century Westward Expansion can be enriched by settlers’ journals, letters, songs, celebrations and drawings from that special time in history. The arts go beyond statistics, dates and short-answer quizzes to deepen our appreciation and understanding of the information. The arts are part of it all!
Our children know this. Tiny fingers love to scribble on paper with colorful crayons. Sometimes even newborn babies can be heard “singing.” One mother-to-be told me she was sure the baby growing inside her was dancing to the reggae music she loved to play.
There is value in music and art lessons, no doubt, but there is no need to rush those experiences. Everyday life presents countless opportunities to celebrate the arts with children. Think about good morning songs. Markers, paints and crayons on tables with colorful paper waiting to be filled with designs. Your favorite music shared and enjoyed with easy, natural accompanying movements. Children learn from what they see, what they experience. Sing out! Read and tell stories.
Help keep the arts part of (not apart from) your daily life. No admission tickets are required. Remember: Art is part of earth, hearth and—most important—heart.
Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld is a longtime Columbus arts educator and author who works with children of all ages and encourages them to become creative, lifelong learners.