While most children won't grow up to be the next Picasso, all can benefit from expressing themselves through drawing, painting, or other forms of visual art. Encourage your child to explore her artistic side with these tips:
Provide plenty of materials. Keep your child supplied with two- and three-dimensional materials such as paper for folding, cutting, and pasting, and blocks for building. Other good choices: plenty of crayons, clay, and paint.
Display favorite works of art. Designate an "art wall" in your home where you and your child can select favorite museum prints or selections of your child's original artwork to be displayed.
Visit art museums. A trip to an art museum can be a great adventure and wonderful learning experience for a child. Keep these before, during, and after tips in mind to help your child get the most from your visit.
- Before your visit: Research local children's museums and find out which exhibits are currently being offered. Explain to your child what to expect in the museum, and make sure he's fed and rested when you arrive.
- During your visit: Don't expect to take in the entire museum in one visit. The younger your child, the shorter his attention span. Select just a few pieces of art for very young children to view and limit yourself to a few different exhibits for school-age kids. Some of the most kid-friendly: mummies, dinosaurs, and space displays. Encourage your child to find recognizable objects in the painting he views by asking questions like, "How many people do you see?" "What do you think they are doing?" and so on.
- After your visit: You can swing by the museum gift shop to purchase children's art books or postcards of your child's favorite works. After you leave the museum, prompt your child to talk about the experience by asking what she liked the most and what she liked the least.
Check out special kids' museums. Unlike adult museums where you can look but not touch, many children's museums encourage hands-on participation. Many also offer special events and tours for little ones.