Learning by Being Themselves:
How the Arts Benefits Disabled Children
There’s a wide range of activities to choose from across the broad spectrum of artistic endeavor. The best way to make the most of it is to pair your child with an activity that dovetails with his age, abilities, strengths and mode of learning. If your kid tends to be a visual learner, there are many opportunities for them to develop via the visual arts, while a child who’s strongest suit is auditory learning may blossom by engaging in music. Other children learn best from moving around and taking part in dance and the dramatic arts.
Join in the fun
All children flourish in an environment of encouragement and affirmation. Making time to get involved in a child’s artistic expressiveness provides the emotional support they need to make the most of the experience. And getting personally involved will help your child feel pride in his work, so make time to participate and let him show you how he uses his mind and hands to create things that are uniquely his own. Better yet, it’s a great way to bond with your child. Revitalize an old skill like sewing by looking up tutorials and projects for beginners online, or pick up a brand new hobby like painting by taking classes at your local art museum or community center.
Art at home
Inspiration can arise at any time, so make a space for your child to express his creativity at home. Consider setting up an art room where he can express himself freely and try different things without worrying about making a mess. Provide a range of supplies to encourage experimentation. Paint brushes, pencils, crayons, clay, and lots of paper of different sizes open a whole new world of inquiry and inventiveness for your child. Utilize wipeable surfaces and large spaces with chalkboard paint, which transforms entire walls into a creative resource.
Children learn about rhythm and different kinds of sounds and how it all works together through music. It also helps kids develop phonological recognition through repetition and playing songs that are fun to learn. It’s a highly useful activity considering the close connection between learning music and literacy. It’s also a good way to impart mathematical skills and improving memory, capabilities that learning to play a woodwind instrument such as a flute, clarinet, saxophone, or oboe can instill.
One of the most empowering features of art for children with disabilities is the opportunity it provides to earn praise for being themselves and the uniqueness of what they create rather than worrying about adhering to a pre-established norm. It’s a comfortable and stimulating way to learn and develop. In fact, at school, the art room may be the only place a child with a disability feels truly at home, in a setting where individuality is what really matters. A child with special needs who feels empowered, loved and supported in school is best-suited to learning and developing important skills. That’s why a creative environment is so effective at helping children with disabilities grow up confidently and eager to try new things.
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