The Magic Of Art


    * Incredibly fun?
    * A crucial communication skill?
    * A powerful self-esteem launcher?
    * An extraordinary window to your child's imagination?
    * Wonderful therapy?
    * A great family pastime and a conduit for creative enthusiasm?


According to Mark Kistler, or "Commander Mark" as he is known on his national PBS TV series, The Secret City, in his booklet, Drawing On Art For Self-esteem, published by the Independent Order of Foresters, kids who have been exposed to a rich visual arts program have demonstrated remarkable improvements in all areas of their curriculums. The areas of development most affected by visual arts are a child's "thinking and problem solving skills".

Art should be included in every child care program, whether centre-based or home care.

    * Such a program should be run on a daily basis and providers (parents too) should be actively involved in the activity with the kids.
    * There should be a specific art area, be it a certain corner or table in the daycare or home where children can unleash their imaginations.
    * To get the creative juices flowing, it helps to give the children ideas like "Is the tree crying icicles or did diamonds fall from the sky?" or: Umbrella village is a very special place. What kind of people do you think live there? What would their houses look like? How would they dress?

Helping to Build a Child's Enthusiasm for Art

There are many things parents (and providers) can do to encourage a child's enthusiasm for art and build their self-confidence. For instance you could:

    * Keep track of your child's progress with a chart showing his or her improvement.
    * Demonstrate the art - this is surefire confidence- set up an area to show off the children's artwork. look for your child's drawings and colorings - comment on what you see.
    * Ask your child to tell you about the picture. You can learn a lot about your child's feelings and observations from what he or she does on paper.
    * Start a Drawing Club. Each member can send their pictures to a friend, their parents, or a relative. They can decorate a clubhouse with their artwork. A clubhouse could be a large cardboard box, a corner of the room, or anywhere they can display their art, do more art, and gather for a common purpose.

Other Benefits of Art

Besides the benefits noted above, art also develops the small motor muscles in the hands. These muscles are used for writing, buttoning, picking up small objects, etc. A child whose fine hand muscles are well-developed by the time he or she enters school will have less difficulty learning to write their name, the alphabet, and numbers. With this ability learning becomes easier. Asking a child to tell you about the artwork fosters language development as the story flows into a picture itself. Talk to your provider about your child's art program, and the suggestions listed above. Work with her to set up a program your child and the other children will enjoy. Bring in supplies from home. You could raise money for a better supply of art materials, or ask for donations whenever possible. Above all, encourage your child to draw, and appreciate his or her efforts.

For more information on The Independent Order of Foresters or for a copy of Kistler's booklet, write to:

In Canada
789 Don Mills Rd.
P.O. Box 848
Toronto, Ont. M3C 1T9
Phone: (800) 268-6091

In th U.S.A.
100 Border Ave.
Solana Beach, CA 92075-0848
Phone: (800) 922-4-I.O.F.