For many children in the U.S. who are living with a disability, it can be difficult to get involved in a new activity. They may have trouble expressing themselves or verbalizing their feelings, or they may be anxious about a change in their routine. However, the arts can be extremely beneficial for young people who have a learning disability, because being creative allows an individual to cope with trauma or stress, express themselves in new ways, and form social bonds. Art acts as a type of therapy for many people, whether it’s through painting or dancing or acting, and because these activities are generally calm ones, they act as a soothing balm for children who have high anxiety.
One of the best ways to help your child get involved in the arts is to simply expose him or her to many different types of creativity. You never know what might spark interest, so looking for ways to get your child interested in various activities will ensure success. You might head to a local museum, look for a business where you can make your own pottery, or take a trip to the local children’s theater and allow your child to see other kids performing.
Keep reading for some great tips on how to help your child get involved in the arts.
Find a melody
Music is a wonderful way to get children of all abilities involved in the arts, and it has particularly wonderful benefits for children with learning disabilities. A great way to learn if music piques their interest is to listen to kid-friendly tunes together and learn what types of sounds appeal to them. That way, you can discover if they would flourish with a singing or musical instrument hobby. Jennifer Jill Schwirzer has a whole library of music you can enjoy with your children to find out what appeals to them.
Exposing kids to various types of arts and humanities will be extraordinarily useful in helping them get involved. If your child is unsure about going to a new and unfamiliar place — such as a museum — look online for a virtual tour. Many museums offer these now, and with technology growing at a rapid pace, it’s easier than ever to get up close to a famous painting or sculpture via the computer. Look for areas that your child already has an interest in — such as dinosaurs — and start there.
Create a hobby room
If you have an extra room in your home — or if your child has space in his bedroom — consider creating a designated hobby area where he can be free to get a little messy. Set up an easel with paper and art supplies, a block-building station, or a table where he can sew and play with textiles. Sewing in particular can be a great way to foster your child’s sensory and focus skills, and getting started with the right tools will ensure that he doesn’t lose interest. Encourage him to keep trying if he fails to make what he’s envisioning. Art of any medium can be frustrating in that way sometimes, but the key is to keep going.
Getting involved in the activities your child shows an interest in will help him build confidence and have fun at the same time. You might try your hand at painting alongside him, or you can take a dancing class together. Showing your child that you’re interested in what he’s doing will not only encourage him to keep going, it will elevate his self-esteem and help him see that it’s an activity worth pursuing.
You could even open up the opportunity for your child’s friends to participate, and if things are going well and you enjoy this simple contribution to shaping kids, you can even turn it into a hobby business. Kids need a creative outlet, and teaching lessons is a fulfilling activity for you, too. If you decide to go that route, keep in mind your business should be treated as such, and cover legalities like registering your business as a corporation with your state. Setting up your company as a corporation will keep you from being legally liable from any issues your business faces, so along with creating a business plan, it’s an important step to success.
Level the playing field
Some children with disabilities might not excel at sports, but will take to artistic activities like a duck to water. Allowing them to explore their options will level the playing field with other children and help them see where their strengths lie. It’s also a great way to help them feel included; being a part of a group is a natural desire for many kids, especially if they are differently-abled.
Helping your child with a learning disability get involved in the arts will allow him to come out of his shell a bit and explore the world around him. It may help him find new methods of expression, or he may just find something he’s passionate about that will stay with him for years to come.