The importance of the creative arts, part 1
          In my years in the classroom, I have had the pleasure of teaching several children who have either one or two artists as parents. These children, who have a higher than average exposure to art and the media for creating it, possess some qualities that many other children do not have: in addition to their artistic talent, I have observed that they usually read and write better than their peers. My conclusion, based solely on this anecdotal evidence, is that their exposure to art affects other aspects of their learning.
        This led me to a discussion with Aiko Cuneo, an artist who works with children in public schools, to flesh out the benefits of arts education, both in and out of schools. We offer to you these highlights of our conversation.
        * First of all, we suggest that parents expand their definition of art. If you are a
baker or a cook, if you like to arrange flowers, if you enjoy the harmonious arrangement of objects in your home, you are an artist. These expressions of creativity are as legitimate and valuable as those of painters and the other people we call artists.

         * If you are a scientist and enjoy inventing and experimenting, you bring an
artistic sensibility to your work and may include yourself in the definition of artist.
         * The role of parents and teachers is to expose children to a variety of materials so that they can create art. Once the variety is offered, children will then have a choice as to whether they want to use the materials or not. But without the exposure, there is no choice.
         * Budding artists have a creative spirit that cannot be expressed unless there is an exposure to art. If you start early, there is a greater opportunity for this spirit to be identified and, therefore, grow with the child.
         * Art is a delightful way through which you can record the development of your childís growth. Just as you will notice that writing and reading improves with age, so does artwork. 
         Notice the difference between a self-portrait as drawn by a kindergartner
compared to the same childís work as a third-grader.

         This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents.

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