April is Youth Art Month and you might be surprised to hear that art education helps children develop socially, physically, emotionally, cognitively, and foster creativity and imagination.
Unfortunately, due to school budget cuts in many parts of the United States, art and music education is disappearing from the curriculum.
It’s important that we advocate for these programs in schools because we know their value. Students with access to arts education outperform those who do not on standardized tests (which are, apparently, the only way some “experts” can analyze educational success) and are more likely to attend college.
At the same time, we should encourage our children to see art as an integral part of their lives by introducing it at home. Working on projects together is a great family activity. And the beauty of doing arts and crafts projects at home is that there’s no critic to evaluate your work!
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out the gallery on the International Child Art Foundation‘s website. This organization uses art to help children in conflict areas process and express their feelings. They’re doing fantastic work to help children whose physical needs might have been met but who are still emotionally needy.
It’s a great lesson for us in our own lives. With all the financial, social, political, and personal unrest many of us are facing, it’s important to have a creative outlet to help us manage the stress. And it’s also a great example to set for our own children on how to deal with upheaval in their lives.
So go ahead and tackle an art project with your kids and see if it doesn’t provide a stress relief for you, too.
I have always loved flying kites. Maybe it’s because I was born in the spring, typically the best kite-flying time of year, or maybe I’m just a little flighty (get it?), but over the years I have flown a lot of kites.
Thanks to some close but not too-close hurricanes in our area over the past couple of weeks, we’ve enjoyed some unusually windy days that have been perfect for kite flying. After a fun afternoon testing out my son’s new Star Wars kite, I got to wondering about how popular kites are in other parts of the world.
As always, I turned to the Internet, which offered some immediate answers.
There’s a wikispaces devoted to a student project on kites that incorporates children from China, the United States, Pakistan, India, Australia, South Korea, and Slovenia.
This site has so many pictures of kites – and kite fliers – from around the world that you’re sure to see something you’ve never seen before!
I even found out that the United States has an entire museum dedicated to kites in Washington state.
And finally, here’s how to make your own kite (if you don’t have a cool Star Wars one already).
But no matter how much research you do, nothing takes the place of actually flying one yourself, preferably with someone who actually knows how to make the kite airborne!
One of the indisputably best things about being a child is coloring. It’s a great way for them to express themselves creatively, it builds dexterity in very young children, and it also helps them process their emotions.
There are a number of organizations that work with children to provide them with the resources and opportunities to create art. The International Child Art Foundation, based in Washington, DC, has helped children produce art in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 Chinese earthquake, and the 2004 tsunami. The foundation has even used art to help children in conflict such as Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots.
The United Nations also has used art to get children sharing their thoughts on poverty and climate change.
There are even some websites, such as the Global Children’s Art Gallery, even allow users to submit their own art. Give it a try!
Here’s a short list of places NOT to go if you’re averse to tomfoolery:
However, having lived in West Africa, I can tell you that former colonies of any of these countries are extremely likely to maintain the practice of April Fool’s jokes. In Burkina Faso, it was known as the “poisson d’avril,” which means “April fish.” This turn of phrase stems from the young and naïve fish spring fish who were easily caught on April 1.