I think every child should have the opportunity to experience art. I’m biased yes, but if we can teach our kids to seek and appreciate it, I think they will grow into happier, more well adjusted adults. Art is more than just pretty pictures on canvas, it is a reflection of how we feel, how we can make others feel, a communication to the world about who we are and why we are the way we are. By exposing our kids, boys especially, to art, we teach them another way to experience their feelings, how to empathize with others and of course, cultivate their creativity.
Last week I took my little one to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman. He’s eight months old and I thought he might enjoy a change of scenery. Turns out I was right, he ate it up. There were some pieces he liked, and some he didn’t. I was completely surprised when he actually laughed out loud at a few of the sculptures. To be honest I felt a little left out. I wanted in on the joke too! Of course everything is new and exciting at his age, but seeing the lines and colors through his “new” eyes made me discover art in a totally different way.
This spring break, if you are in need of an outing for the kiddos, I encourage you to look to your local art museums. The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is open Tuesday thru Sunday and the admission is always free. You can’t beat free!
If you are afraid of how your kids might behave there are a couple of things you can do:
1. Bring a relative/friend or two to help you wrangle. (I did!)
2. Play “museum” before you go! This would be great for little ones who have a tendency to run amok. Help them create art at home and hang it around the room gallery style. Mom and Dad can get in on the fun too! Then when everyone’s art is hung, show the little ones how to slowly walk from picture to picture while the whole family oohs and ahhs over each one. From an afternoon of playing pretend, you can teach your kids museum etiquette. Plus, you’ll make some pretty great memories.
3. If you think this all sounds well and good, but know in your heart of hearts that there is no way your brood can handle it, then take your kids one on one. A “Mommy and Me” date type of thing. Let them roam from piece to piece organically, always supervised, but without feeling like they need permission to move to the next one. Stand back and watch them absorb their surroundings at their own pace.
4. If you’ve got older kids chances are they at least have some interest/ability in art, let them take some paper, a clipboard and pencils and let them camp out in front of their favorite piece and sketch to their heart’s content.
5. Lastly, talk! Talk about what they are seeing, what it makes them feel, what they would have done differently, and even what they didn’t like about it. You don’t have to get deep or pretend to know more than you do. Art is for the masses, talk about it naturally and authentically and your kids will follow your lead. It should be fun, never intimidating.
BONUS TIP: While the Fred Jones museum is free, they do accept donations. This is a great way to teach your little one about the concept of giving and they will feel so proud to contribute (even if it’s only pennies.)
This is a little off the beaten path outing wise, but what an awesome way to expand their horizons.