I watched my daughter more than the display. We were there to look at the art installation, to see the famous paintings of van Gogh come to life in new ways. But I was captivated by her. She looked at the colors, the shapes, the images, pointing out details I hadn’t seen before. She was connecting with art painted over one hundred years ago.

In our busy world with increasing academic and athletic standards for our children, the arts tend to get pushed aside. But research shows that the arts help kids with everything from reasoning and development to self-expression and confidence. This includes more than just the visual arts. Exposure to music and performing art produces the same benefits and provides opportunities for your child to grow and learn.

Knowing the benefits and understanding how to incorporate the arts into our already busy lives are two different things. Here are easy ways you can make art part of your child’s experience.

Let Them See Art

Perhaps the most obvious way to encounter art is by seeing art, and it is still important. This can look like going to a museum, but it’s also about being observant of the world around you.


Visit museums: Even at young ages, children can learn to appreciate art in a museum. Try keeping visits shorter for little ones. You can even keep them in a stroller in many museums. This allows you to expose them to art as well as teach them how to behave in a museum. For older kids, try to find museums that spark their interest. Maybe modern art or a photography exhibit provides more connection.

See performances: Go to live concerts and shows. Casual outdoor venues are great with little kids, so they have space to move around and even dance if appropriate. For inexpensive options great for kids, try local high school theater productions and library events.

Listen to music: Music provides entertainment, learning and connection for kids as young as babies. Exposing them to different types of music helps them with language skills, provides comfort, gives a physical outlet and more. From lullabies to rock music and classical to top hits, listening to different types of music is a great way to teach kids to appreciate the arts.

Let Them Experience Art

Sometimes there are opportunities for art to be more interactive. This is great for children as they are given the freedom to explore art in new ways. Having the chance to touch a sculpture, taste a beautiful cupcake or sing along to a song invites your child to become part of the art, looking at it from a different perspective.

Visit an interactive exhibit: Many cities provide opportunities to interact with art in ways we never have before. Things like Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience make classical art come to life, even putting your child in the middle of the art as they see it projected all around them. This encourages people to explore a type of art they may not have explored before.

Go outside: Look for outdoor art exhibits that allow you to see the art and even touch it in many cases. Taking a tour of the graffiti in a city or the famous murals painted outside invite a less restrictive experience for kids. Sometimes you even find unique exhibits such as Hogpen Hill Farms, which invites you to walk around, through and under large-scale sculptures. Experiences like this inspire kids and foster creativity.

Let Them Create Art

Creating art comes in so many forms, but often we limit our ideas to things like painting and playing music. Give your child the chance to explore creating all types of art, like drawing, Play-Doh, nail art, puppet shows, fashion, singing, knitting, dancing, acting, sidewalk chalk and color mixing. All of these are ways to create art. And the possibilities are endless.

Make supplies available: Have a variety of art supplies available for your children to explore. As they do, give them times that are purposeful and structured to make something specific as well as other times that give them the freedom to imagine and create. Some good supplies to start with are paper in various sizes, crayons, markers, colored pencils, paint, yarn, glue, music, chalk, clay, Play-Doh, dress-up clothes and various things like buttons and ribbons.

Sign up for art classes: Consider what art classes are available in your area. Whether it’s a painting class, music lessons, cooking class, dance class or a local play, there are a variety of options for kids to try. Giving them a chance to explore and try new things allows them to learn what they enjoy.

Encourage creative expression: Perhaps the most important part is your encouragement. When you talk about the arts as well as encourage your child’s creative endeavors, you show them that art is an important part of life and who they are.

As you look to incorporate more art into your child’s life, give them opportunities to see, experience, and create. This will not only help their learning and development but also give them an appreciation for the arts as they grow.