Editor’s note: This is a guest post from LearningDisabilities. LearningDisabilities was created to offer information and understanding to parents of children with learning disabilities, as well as adults who are in need of continued support to succeed.
The arts are often undervalued, especially as learning tools, but for kids who have a learning disability, they can be hugely beneficial. Not only does being creative help boost self-confidence and self-esteem it can also help a child who has problems communicating find a way to express herself that feels good. Whether it’s through making visual art, dancing, or baking, the arts are suitable for all ages, and because there are so many different ways to get creative, there are options for all children regardless of their abilities.
Helping a child with a learning disability get interested and involved in the arts can be tricky, however, especially if they are on the autism spectrum and have a resistance to moving off a schedule. Starting slowly will be a big help, as will introducing your child to many different types of creative outlets. It may take a while for them to find something that speaks to them, so try to stay patient as you go through this process together.
Here are a few tips on how to get started.
Use Art as a Way to Communicate
Some children have trouble expressing themselves, either due to a condition like dyslexia — which makes reading and writing difficult — or because they are non-verbal. Art can be a wonderful way around those issues, so hand your child a piece of paper and some crayons the next time she feels frustrated. Help her see that drawing what’s on her mind can be a huge relief.
Another great option for children with learning differences is textile arts and sewing, which is an easy and inexpensive hobby to get your child started in, thanks to the bountiful online guides and resources available online. Not all of us are naturally talented when it comes to drawing and painting, which can be frustrating for a child. Following a simple pattern that allows your little one to create a project like a basic pillowcase or purse gives her the opportunity to express herself artistically, enjoy the fruits of her labor, and even build her fine motor skills.
It will be much easier for you to help your child get involved in the arts if you take an active interest in them as well. Find something you enjoy — whether it’s going to see plays or making music — and encourage your child to participate in it with you. In fact, music is highly beneficial for children with special needs, as it allows them to learn social cues, fires up both sides of the brain for learning, and is a tactile experience when played on an instrument. If your child shows an interest in playing, help her choose the right instrument for her needs.
Head to a Museum
Seeing art in real life can have a profound effect on a child and her ability to create, so head to a museum and take in the sights. Paintings, sculptures, and multimedia works will show your child what is possible when you get creative and keep trying. If your child is easily overstimulated in public spaces, consider taking a virtual tour with her online. You can find a list of the best museums that offer these tours at Mental Floss.
Create a Designated Space for Creativity
If there’s an area of your home designated exclusively to being creative, your child will have a much better chance of success no matter what type of activity she chooses to engage in. If you have a spare room, or if there’s a section of your child’s bedroom that can be used for arts and crafts, provide her with all the tools she’ll need to paint, draw, sculpt, dance, sew, and create. Having this area will encourage her to keep being creative and give her an outlet when she’s feeling unhappy or anxious.
Helping your child get involved in the arts can help them for years to come as they navigate their abilities and learn how to express themselves in a positive way. It can help with behavioral issues and can boost mental health for everyone in the family, so get involved and encourage your other children to do so, too.