Friday, October 3, 2008

Fostering art appreciation

You can help foster your child's enjoyment of art and museums.  Here's what worked for my family.

When my kids were little, we set a pattern of taking them to museums and exhibits of various kinds. We started with the local children's discovery museum, airplane and train museums, the natural history museum, and science and technology museums.  We also regularly visited zoos and aquariums.  Hands-on museums were the best when they were in the 3-7 range.

As my kids got older, we started branching out into art museums, historical exhibits, and other cultural events.  To keep their interest, I found that it helps to create a little paper handout for them to fill out. I bring a clipboard and a pencil from home for them. For an art museum, the handout may include things like this:
  • What piece of art do you like most and why?
  • What is your least favorite piece of art and why?
  • What's the oldest piece of art you can find? Who created it and when?
  • Find a piece of art made from multiple materials. What's it made of? Do you like it?
  • Is there a piece that you don't think should qualify as "art"? Why?
When my kids finish the handout, I give them each a dollar or two to spend in the museum store.  This keeps them engaged and rewards them for participating.  On the way home, we talk about their answers. It gets them to think about what they're seeing and form opinions about it. And, they think it's fun. Kind of like a treasure hunt.

My kids are 12 and 14 now, and they both love to go to museums. They each have different preferences in art and like different types of museums and exhibits.  

Many museums are free for one or two days each month, so check around if you're on a tight budget.  

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