Twenty-five Ways to Enrich Your Child’s Education with Exposure to the Arts: Why Our Future Depends on Creative Thinkers

If I have observed one thing after a decade of having a school-age child, it’s that arts motivate kids to perform better in school. Even though her mom is a writer and her dad is a theater director, she’s not an extension of us. She is uniquely herself, and her exposure to a wide variety of arts helps her discover her own passions, proclivities and personhood.

The more types of arts my daughter engages in, the happier and more motivated a student she becomes overall, even in her most challenging academic classes. But don’t take my word for it. Check out the messages broadcasted prolifically from Sir Ken Robinson, author of Finding Your Element: How To Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life.  Creativity and education expert and popular TED speaker, Robinson asserts that the job of education is to teach children to become creative thinkers rather than merely good workers.

In addition to Robinson’s theory that a child’s exposure to a steady stream of his or her talents and passions leads to finding future work right in his or her own element, we must remember something else. The greatest challenges faced by civilization are going to be solved by our children one day. Do we want them to behave like well-behaved workers, or do we want them to become the creative thinkers, problem-solvers and innovators they were born to be?

  Participation in the arts is just as important to raising well-rounded children as participation in academics and athletics. The arts awaken personal power in children by helping them discover their talents and passions organically. I know this is true because my daughter, who loves to sing, dance, act and draw, recently started reading Shakespeare, watching historical documentaries, playing the piano and taking hip-hop classes.

I am not bragging. I am keenly aware that I may have been inadvertently putting imagined limits on just how creative my daughter could become. Now, thanks to her example, I am beginning to think that there isn’t anything she can’t do. And isn’t that exactly what we want our children to believe?

Why do we, as parents, put limits on our kids’ creative impulses when creative activities clearly benefit real-world performance? My daughter has the rest of her life to discover and pursue creative activities that light her up from the inside and inspire her to be the best she can be. Between now and the day she ventures out into the world, my job as her mother is to make sure she never runs out of opportunities to practice being her multi-faceted self. She can sift and sort through for herself what she likes best and what she doesn’t prefer. She doesn’t need me for that, except to remind her that how she spends her time and energy in life is her choice.

When I leave this world some day, I want to depart knowing I exposed my daughter to as much personal enjoyment of life as I could. And the arts will have played a leading role in this endeavor. I don’t want my daughter’s focus in life to be on survival or drudgery; I want her life to be a celebration of the art of being herself. In order to do this, she has to explore and assess her talents and abilities in her own ways.

If you are inadvertently capping the amount of creative activities your kids participate in, as I was, I hope you will stop. Instead of cutting the arts out of our kids’ schedules, we need to allow access to as many art activities as a child’s schedule permits. They can set the bar to a level that feels right from there.

Please don’t be confused about whose job it is to expose your kids to the arts. Engagement in the arts is a parent’s job first, before teachers or instructors get involved. Engage your children in the arts and watch the magic happen. They will thank you for your encouragement today and in the future with their smiles and feelings of contentment.

 Here are 25 types of activities to expose your kids to both in school and outside of school.

  1. Fine arts (drawing, painting, sculpture,   printmaking)
  2. Photography, video, multi-media arts
  3. Choir, vocal performing
  4. Band, orchestra
  5. Theater arts
  6. Film (fictional and documentary)
  7. Yearbook
  8. Dance
  9. Creative writing
  10. Leadership
  11. Robotics
  12. Animation
  13. Architecture and design
  14. 1Opera
  15. Ballet
  16. Crafts
  17. Cooking
  18. Decorative arts
  19. Fashion
  20. Woodcrafts
  21. Graphic arts
  22. 2Jewelry
  23. Junk, trash and found art
  24. Gardening
  25. Performance art
Journalist, author and writing coach, Christina Katz says she is not afraid to get schooled by her teenage daughter. In fact, it might be something that happens more often than she would like to admit.
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North State Parent is a free monthly publication that circulates within five California counties: Butte, Glenn, Shasta, Southern Siskiyou and Tehama. Our pages are filled with family-oriented places to go, services and products geared for women and things to do; a focus on parenting, community, health, education, teens, youth, and much more.

Updated: Oct 10, 2017 @ 11:34 am