By Lori Melton
In all its varied forms of self-expression, art has the potential to move and inspire us, prompt us to dream and make us feel. Art transcends language barriers and often sends a universal message meant to connect us as spiritually and emotionally as people who are all part of a global human race. Adding the "A" for the arts to extend STEM-related curriculum into STEAM reminds us that students are people with boundless creative and artistic potential. If your child is leaning in an artistic direction, here are three ways to support his or her interest.
Make Art Accessible at Home
One of the easiest ways to support your child's interest in art is to make art accessible at home. Share and listen to your collection of jazz, classical, rock, and pop music favorites. Introduce them to your favorite songs, paintings, or writers. Set up a writing or painting nook and stock it with paper, colored pencils, a laptop or vintage typewriter, paints, brushes, canvases, or an easel. Turn a basement space or extra room into a dance studio and install a ballet barre and wall of mirrors. Support and host Saturday night garage band rehearsals. Help your aspiring artists tap into digital and social media outlets by helping them upload their documentary or music performance on YouTube, sell artwork on Etsy, or design their own website or blog that promotes their artistic passion and pursuits.
Consider a Performing Arts School
If your children gifted and serious about developing their artistic talents, you may want to consider having them audition or apply to enroll in a performing arts school. Southern California is a performing arts hub. The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks has award-winning performing arts programs that are geared toward student grade levels. Kids write plays in Kindergarten, direct in fifth grade and take courses in music, dance, drama. Programs change as students advance, with upper-level grades taking a minimum of two years of Visual and Performing Arts studies. Some classes earn transfer credits for University of California and California State University.
The School of Arts and Enterprise (SAE) in Pomona is a charter school that offers arts education in the areas of dance, digital arts, music, theatre arts and visual arts for students in grades 6-12 and several summer programs. Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) is an award-winning high school including California Distinguished School for Academic Excellence, Grammy Signature School, Bravo Award for excellence in arts education and the Exemplary School Designation by the Arts Schools Network. Students in grades 9-12 study in one of five disciplines: cinematic arts, dance, vocal and instrumental music, theater or visual arts. It is also a public, tuition-free school.
If you don't have a dedicated performing arts school near you, be sure to enroll your child in any arts-related courses the local school offers. Encourage them by attending concerts or plays, supporting rehearsals and practices, and helping them apply to arts colleges if they want to pursue an arts degree or further arts training and studies after they graduate.
Tap into Community Arts Programs
Many communities offer fun extra-curricular arts opportunities for kids. A quick Google search or a chat with school art teachers should help you find local options like drawing and painting classes, dance classes, community youth theater, choir and music programs, summer writing camps, photography, and film classes and more. Many television and film actors developed their passion for acting by joining community youth theatres when they were kids. If your children show interest in multiple art disciplines, participating in different local arts programs (as schedules permit) might help them decide what they enjoy and excel at most.
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