Helping Children with Learning Disabilities Explore the Arts

Parents and teachers of children with learning disabilities tend to focus much of their energy on helping them with academics.

Addressing what they need for academic learning is important, but kids with learning disabilities may benefit just as much from time spent engaging in the arts.

Most children are naturally drawn to art in some form, whether it’s painting, singing, acting, or working with their hands. You can encourage their exploration by supporting their interests.

Why Art?

Art isn’t always thought of as an educational tool, but for kids with learning disabilities, it is that and so much more.

Some types of art actually help kids learn academic skills in areas where they would usually struggle. Being creative also gives kids a voice — it’s a way of expressing themselves when they are either unable or unwilling to do so with words.

When kids discover an art form they enjoy, it often makes them feel better about school because they have a talent where they know they excel. This sense of accomplishment can carry over into other subjects in school and throughout their lives.

How to Get Kids Involved in Art?

Observe: You can help your child find out what types of art they are drawn to by giving them plenty of different creative outlets. As kids get a little older, they will spend more time on the activities they enjoy. Observe what they like to spend time on and encourage them to pursue their passion.

Explore: Babble recommends finding inspiration by getting out to see art around town. Take your child to see a children’s play put on by your community theater, or visit a museum. When you expose them to art, they will be inspired to become a part of it.

Support Their Interests: If your child likes to draw or paint, set up an art station at home with everything they need. A contributor to LD Online, who has a learning difference, suggests setting up your child’s first “studio” in a space with good light. Having that space will make it easy for them to spend time doing what they love.

Make Art Part of Everyday Life: Teachers who embrace the arts realize that using art in other educational lessons makes the lessons more engaging and taps into the different learning styles some students have. You can do the same thing by bringing as much art as possible into your home and daily activities.

Which Art Forms Are Best? 

The best art form is the one your child finds fulfilling, but you can encourage them to try some of these ideas in order to find out what type of art that may be.

Sculpture and Textile Arts: Many children enjoy creating something with their hands, such as sewing or sculpting. This type of artwork can be just for fun, but it can be practical too when kids create something they can incorporate into play, such as sculpting figurines or sewing a doll’s blanket. Doing this type of art that keeps their hands busy is calming for many kids, and it can also help with focus and concentration. Click here for some helpful sewing resources.

Playing an Instrument: If your child has a love of music, encourage them to start playing an instrument. Although you want them to select the one they love the most, keep in mind their size and dexterity; some instruments might not be appropriate until they’re a little older. Before choosing one, consider renting an instrument, including flutes, clarinets, or trumpets, and read some reviews to see which is best suited to your child.

Theater: Getting involved in theater is a great all-around activity that develops many different skills. Script reading is a way kids can practice literacy outside the classroom, which may feel more comfortable to them. Theater also develops social skills and can boost self-confidence.

Painting and Drawing: Children with learning differences often think visually, so they may benefit from using this strength to create visual works of art like paintings. Encouraging a child who thinks visually to use their skills is empowering and is a great example of how they can express themselves on canvas in ways they may not be able to in words.

The beauty of art is that it’s accessible to everyone, regardless of their learning style. Kids crave the ability to express themselves, and art gives them that outlet. Your job is to support and encourage their passion so they can enjoy the benefits for a lifetime.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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