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Inspiring Creativity with Art - 12 Tips


One of the greatest delights of childhood, artistic expression, serves many important functions in your child's whole development process. Parents should encourage artistic expression by offering art to their children, in a variety of forms and at an early age.

Art experience is a purely pleasurable exercise, and contributes to healthy mental and emotional wellbeing. Therefore offering and building on your child's innate likes is of fundamental importance. Learn what your child likes by offering a variety of art media for him to explore. Your child will communicate with his art even before he has the language to explain his feelings. Art is thus also seen as an important contributor to intellectual development.

Exposure to art at an early age can encourage a child's lifelong appreciation of art.

12 basic tips, pertaining to environment, materials and behaviour are keys to inspiring creativity!

1. Teach organization
  An art caddy to store and display art supplies, teaches your child the concept of organization, renders materials easily accessible and the experience more pleasurable.
  Your kitchen is a great place to display and store an art caddy. There, it is easily integrated into family life because of its easy access and easy to clean up environment.

2. Use only quality art materials.
  Materials should be non-toxic in odour and in substance.
  Markers should flow well to discourage frustration with the activity.
  Paint should be washable, to discourage parental frustration with the clean up process.
  Scissors should always be functional, safe and in good working order.

3. Offer crayons
  Begin with jumbo crayons, which are easier to hold and less likely to break.
  Standard crayons in a variety of colours should be placed in shallow bins for easy access.
  Ensure that paper, in a variety of colours and sizes is also provided.
  Old magazines are useful for their photos and letters.

4. Offer pastels, chalks, stamps, markers and other messy colours
  Control the environment where your child uses these. It is wise to use them outdoors, rather than indoors on a carpet.
  These should be stored out of reach and should be used only when the activity is closely supervised by a responsible adult.
  Rules of use should be made clear to your child. These rules should be enforced with firm and non-negotiable consequences.

5. Offer paints
  Begin with one primary (red, yellow, blue) colour and proceed with 2 or more colours
  Teach your child to use a small amount of paint on the tip of the paint brush
  Encourage the act of combining colours and discuss the resulting colours.
  Use a painting palette with depressions that hold 1 tablespoon of paint.
  Paints should be washable.
  Paint brushes should be thick bristled, thin, with rounded and straight edges.

6. Offer coloured pencils
  A variety of tracing tools offer an interesting accompaniment to pencil crayons.
  Tools may include circles, squares and animal shapes

7. Offer scissors
  Begin with straight edge scissors
  A selection of papers and easy to cut items (string, cardboard, foam and tattoos) are great motivators
  Jagged edge scissors are fun to use.
  Glue sticks, school glue, stapler, tape and other paper fastening tools should be easily accessible.

8. Offer play dough
  Play dough promotes the development of fine motor skills.

9. Read to your child.
  Encourage your child to select the book that she wishes to have read to her.
  Use quality picture books that have beautiful illustrations.
  Offer a structured time and environment for your child to read silently.
  Make sure that you read independently, alongside your child.

10. Expose your child to a variety of artistic styles.
  Take your child on a variety of excursions.
  Possible trips include the local art gallery, museum and science centre

11. Ask your child to tell you about his drawing.
  Commenting on your child's flower, when it really is a depiction of his brother, is discouraging to the child.
  An appropriate verbal interaction could be: "The colours that you picked are really beautiful. Tell me about your picture."
  A parent might ask: "How did you feel when you painted this picture?"
  A parent may engage in a discussion focusing on the child's choice in colour and space.
  The child should tell the story about the picture whereas the parent should assume the role of 'listener'.

12. Abstain from offering criticism. Focus on appreciating your child's personal artistic expression.
  Inappropriate statements include: "You didn't cover your whole page" and "You are not finished yet".
  Appropriate statements include: "I like how you combined your green and blue colours together" and "I like the way you used the entire bottom part of your page and started to fill in the sky" or "I like how your swirled the paint in this part of your drawing. How did you do that?" or "Tell me about your picture".

For the full story, read the fall edition of Quality Of Life Omnimedia's Parents & Kids Magazine.

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