When you think about what your child does at school each day, an image of him raising his hand to solve a math problem probably comes to mind before an image of him raising that same hand, with paintbrush, to an easel. But the school arts program, which could include drama, music, and fine arts, is an important aspect of your child's development. Here's what you need to know to get involved:
What's good about art?
- It contributes to making a well-rounded student.
- It encourages the pursuit of extracurricular hobbies.
- It is a fantastic stress reliever.
- It provides a sense of worth.
- It is a showcase for creative expression.
What will my child do in a typical school arts program?
Plays. Younger elementary-school students often do dramatic reenactments of the first Thanksgiving, while middle-school students may tackle Shakespeare. Remember that regardless of whether your child seeks the spotlight or gets stage fright, smaller supporting parts are just as important as leading roles and are an excellent opportunity to steal the show.
Musical theatre. Musicals, like Grease! or Bye, Bye, Birdie, are school favorites because of the lighthearted storylines, and offer the chance to show off acting, singing, or dancing skills — or all three!
History. In early art instruction, starting in upper elementary school, children are usually exposed to some of the big names in art, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, or Jackson Pollock.
Photography. Photography is more common in middle school and high school, where your amateur photographer can take both artistic shots and snap pictures for the yearbook or school newspaper.
Painting and drawing. The best thing about painting and drawing is that students of all ages can do it at any skill level. Instruction in basic art classes includes learning about the color wheel, different media (oil paints, charcoal, watercolor), and experimenting with landscapes, portraits, and still life subjects.
Sculpture and 3-D art. Your child could have exposure to pottery, modeling with clay, or weaving in elementary school, and continue on with other forms of 3-D art, like sculpture or printmaking, in middle school.
Choir. In many cases, choir isn't offered as a class until middle school or high school, though younger students may have more informal singing time. It's still a great way for your child to get in harmony with his peers, and more advanced levels of choir usually offer a section on music theory, exploring more than just the notes.
Instrumental music. Younger students may begin practicing the recorder if they've never had any training with instruments. This way, the entire class can be in tune together. The focus is usually on more classical selections, but in middle school or high school, there could be an opportunity to perform modern music in the jazz band.