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Simple ways to encourage young artists

No two students are the same. Some students may love to read and naturally gravitate toward English class, while others may be fascinated by the world around them and find nothing stokes their academic passions quite like the study of physics.

A passion for a given subject can make students more excited about school. But what about students with a passion for art? Many school districts have drastically cut back on fine arts classes. For example, a recent analysis of data from the State Department of Education in Oklahoma found that schools in the Sooner State cut more than 1,100 fine arts classes between 2014 and 2018.

In the face of such budget cuts, parents may need to take a more active role in support of their children's passion for art. The following are some ways parents can encourage that passion.

• Recognize the educational value of art. PBS notes that creative activities are some of the building blocks of child development. While schools may be shifting their focus to common core subjects like mathematics, parents should recognize that art can be incredibly valuable to young minds as well. For example, art can help young children develop language skills, as creating art projects, even while just a toddler, often compels children to talk about their art. In addition, a recent report from Americans for the Arts found that art education strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. If parents recognize the value of art, students are more likely to follow suit and reap all the rewards that art education provides.

• Allow children the freedom to create. While technique is important for artists, young artists can benefit from some space. Other subjects are necessarily structured, but art sessions can be a great time for kids to simply explore their creativity without much interference from parents or educators. A designated room for arts, including arts and crafts, can illustrate to children that their interest in the arts is important and worthy of exploration.

• Keep supplies well-stocked. Much like parents of young athletes enroll them in sports leagues or purchase the latest equipment, parents of children with a passion for art can indulge that passion by enrolling them in local art classes and keeping them well-stocked with art supplies. Even if the supplies are as simple as crayons and construction paper, their availability can send kids the message that their passion for art is not taken lightly.

The arts can benefit students in myriad ways. If local school districts no longer offer art programs, it's up to parents to find ways to encourage their children's love of art.

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