March is Youth Art Month, an annual observance that emphasizes the value of art education for all children. Chattanooga children's art expert Lynda Pritchett said it's a great time to nurture children's creativity through art and other activities that inspire innovation, resourcefulness and originality.
Ms. Pritchett, executive director of KidzArt in Hixson, an after school art enrichment program for kids of all ages, said, "As children experiment and test new waters, they learn and grow and develop their creativity which is beneficial in all areas of their lives.
Ms. Pritchett offers the following tips to nurture the creative side in your children:
1. Reduce the Stress Factor - Provide a quiet area where your child can go to decompress after the school day. “Have art materials and simple household items available in a workspace area away from the TV or noisy siblings where your child can relax by doing an easy art activity,” said Ms. Pritchett.
2. “Blank Book” Drawing– Each day put an interesting object next to a notebook with empty pages for your child to draw in. Make it a surprise. For example, ask him or her to draw: shells, a small new toy, a miniature household item, an interesting flower, a feather or fossil. Provide at least two different mediums for experimentation such as colored pencils and oil pastels.
3. Decrease Media Overload- Turn off the computer, video games and television and engage kids in active play. "Physical play such as sports and outdoor play or mental stimulation like board or card games promote kids' natural creativity and is a great alternative to the passive time spent with their electronics," said Ms. Pritchett.
4. Ask Open-Ended Questions- Pose questions to your children that start with who, what, where, when and how to encourage their creativity and critical thinking skills.
5. Engage the “Right Brain”- Allow children to exercise their right brain after a day of left-brain school academics. Right brain activity is stimulated by new events or activities, drawing with different colors, shapes and sizes, playing dress-up, dancing or listening to music.
6. Use All the Senses- Improve your kids' use of their imaginations by encouraging them to use all five senses. "Ask children to close their eyes and listen to the sounds around them. See which they can easily identify and which are more challenging," said Ms. Pritchett. Encourage kids to identify new smells (both pleasant and otherwise) when you encounter them.
7. Allow Mistakes. Children often fear ridicule from their peers or parents if they make a "mistake". Unfortunately this same fear inhibits higher order thinking: creative problem solving. "Allowing your child to experiment with art also allows them to take a risk and try something new. This is the creative process and the skill will serve them well in all academic areas," said Ms. Pritchett.
For information on how to foster creativity and celebrate Youth Art Month in the Chattanooga area, contact Lynda Pritchett at (423) 847-6880 or visit http://www.kidzarttn.com.