The Benefit of Creative Arts

A few months ago, I was asked by a rather well known acquaintance what the benefit is of my programming. I’ll be honest that for a rather longer period of time than I’d like to admit afterward, I had feelings of frustration, anger, and sadness over this question. And while I’m sure it was innocent enough, it also super offended me… Because why should I have to explain the benefit of my business??(I’ll be the first to admit that I continually have inner work to do.)

But if you would indulge me, I thought I might take some time to address it and my stance on questions like this here.

This is gonna be a doozy of a post, so buckle up, buttercup!

When I was a practicing music therapist, I was constantly having to defend and justify my seat at the table of disciplines. Many a phenomenal music therapist, burn out for this exact reason. When you are constantly having to prove that your profession is worthy of existing, you can become jaded and exhausted all at the same time. That 100% was me. I got SO tired of printing research studies and constantly educating and advocating for my chosen profession with whomever I came in contact over and over and on and on and on and forever and ever, amen.

I swore when I started The Kids Creative Space, I would never spend time justifying my existence again. If someone didn’t understand why music or the creative arts are important then they were not my target clientele and they could, with all due respect, take their business elsewhere.

It is not lost on me that often people who ask the question what is the benefit of exposing children to the creative arts are also consistent consumers of the creative arts. I so often want to ask back to them: Do you read books? Do you read blogs? Do you watch TV? Do you go to the movies? Do you listen to music in the car? How about on your Alexa? Do you have paintings on you walls? Do you have décor at all in your house? Do you get your family photos taken every year? In that case, do you use a predesigned Christmas card to stick the photo on and mail out? Do you wear jewelry? Clothing? Etcetera. Etcetera.

If there is a yes to any of those questions, then you can thank a child who at one point was exposed to the creative arts.

Listen, google is your friend. Unless you’re having a health issue, in which case you should stay off google at all costs and call your doctor. But in this scenario, it’s your friend. You can google the research behind the benefits of exposing children to the creative arts. For the record, I just did and it came up with 35,400,000 results in 0.58 seconds. There are some pretty big players supporting the arts with children on that first page, including multiple universities, PBS, Scholastic, LinkedIn, and ParentCircle, to name a few.

If a person is asking a creative arts teacher (in any modality) why the arts matter, then I have a sneaking suspicion that nothing that teacher says is going to convince that person that the arts do in fact matter. Because that person is not only blind to how the arts improve their quality of daily life, but also to the very existence of the arts in their daily life.

Even still, I really, REALLY hope I’m wrong about that last paragraph. I really, really hope that person can be convinced, even if I don’t want to be the one tasked with convincing them.

Because the creative arts do matter.

And that’s it. That’s my stance.

A Spicy Auntie Jess

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Toddler Art: Making messes and growing skills

Here’s the deal. Toddler art can be a little bananas. It can be messy. It can be exhausting. It can be short lived. Can I be so bold as to present you with some reasons for trying it and maybe sticking with it?

DISCLAIMER: It’s hard being a parent to small children. My internship director once told me that the hardest job she ever had was being a parent. As an unpaid, childless intern, I chuckled because I was pretty sure doing her job for 6+ months for all of $0 was pretty stinkin’ hard. BUT I digress. As a mama to 3 blessed cherubs, I do concur that this is the hardest job I have ever had. This information is not meant to make you feel guilty if messy art is not your jam. Somedays we don’t have the wherewithal to deal with another mess. Somedays Disney+ (not an add… but feel free to call me, Disney!) is our bestie boo. That’s okay! Do what you can, when you can.

Reason #1: It can help you connect with your child in a meaningful way. Confession time. I don’t enjoy pretend play. It is not my jam. I would rather have my fingernails pulled out then play little people or babies. (That’s dramatic, but you get the point.) I do however LOVE art. I love painting and coloring and all the things. So when we pull out the art supplies I can spend quality time with my toddler doing something we BOTH enjoy.

Reason #2: But Jess, you say, my toddler won’t do the art! All they want to do is eat the paint or spend 30 seconds doing the thing that I spent all this time setting up. I know. I know. Simplicity is the name of the game with toddlers. Your toddler isn’t designed to sustain attention to any one task for a very significant amount of time. Their baby brains just aren’t developed enough for that. BUT the more you present opportunities to them, the more they will begin to engage in those things. It takes time and a whole lot of patience and supervision (see Reason #1 – reframe it in your brain as connection time). Eventually, they will be able to engage more. Eventually they will stop eating the paint. (PS – Please always use non-toxic materials.) Eventually, you will see the fruits of your labor.

Reason #3: There’s a ton of fine motor practice, sensory stimulation, and problem solving in art. They become little scientists as they figure out what happens if they mix all these colors up (into mud). The little muscles in their fingers and hands become stronger as the use their pincer or palmer grasp to pick up materials or hold Kwik Stixs. They feel all the little sensations of wet, sticky paint on their hands.

Reason #4: Sometimes they don’t engage in the toddler art activity at all, but if you refer back to Reason #1 something else magical happens. Your toddler will bear witness to you engaging in the toddler art activity. Why does that matter? First off, our children learn a whole lot through observation (sometimes more than we wish, amiright? Anyone else “accidentally” say an inappropriate word while driving only the hear it repeated back? No…. just me??). Second off, one the best ways to get your child to participate in any task, but especially art is for you to do it with them. As a popular red headed mermaid sings, “I wanna be where the people are.” Your children want to be where YOU are. Use that your advantage. Finally and what I would argue is the most important part, your inner child gets to play for a little bit. You do have a little person inside of you that needs tending to, this is one of the ways that you can do that.

Be brave. Stay Creative.

Auntie Jess

PS – Ready to give toddler art a try with a little guidance from me? Sign up for one of our Toddler Creatives classes. Find out all the information here!

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Oh hey, I’m Jess, the owner and head creative over here at The Kids Creative Space, LLC. Welcome to my inaugural blog post!

What is the blog going to be about? Great question!

We’ll talk all things early childhood. We’ll talk about our music and movement, incorporating preschool and toddler art into your daily lives, early childhood development, and crafts! We’ll talk about our music classes. We’ll talk about the neuroscience behind music. We’ll talk about why I structure my classes the way that! I’ll give you peaks behind the curtain of why I do what I do and how I came to do it. Sometimes my takes will be spicy because I am a little spicy. We’ll have guest posts from time to time because there are a lot of smart people out there who have information to share!

So grab your coffee and settle in.

Be brave. Stay Creative.

Auntie Jess

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