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Full text of "Children + parents + arts : three 'Rs' for the nineties"



Three 'Rs' for the Nineties I 






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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

Boston Library Consortium Member Libraries 



http://archive.org/details/childrenparentsaOOnati 



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These brochures are *»%££ t L cHUdren 

^ both in school^* * lart . 

theater, music, danc ^ ^.^ 

Educators tell us ^^ the mselves. 
lea m about the world * n « a $m or subject is 

1 Bot H culture ^c^d^e concern. 

Thi s collection ofbroc hu ^^^ 
cooperation - by P* P rl and the National 
hat drafted the brochu ** ^ .^ tot he 
Endowment for the Arts, w generous 

Hallmark Corporate Foundat- ^ us 

help America s chiiar 
Xndwisdomof the arts. 

johnE.Frohnmayer 

Theatre & Education, 
* American Alliance J^ iona i Conference, 

mi0H \ , Dance Association, 
^XrsTwritersCollaboran^ 






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AND THE MEANINC TOO." 

SEASON BP.USCH 
(7TH CBvADE, SALMON, ID) 




All young children love to play with words. They love to make 
jokes and puns, sing songs, invent names and listen to and tell 
stories. It is a short step from loving such language play to 
loving writing. 

You can help your child make that short but important step: 

• Encourage your child's curiosity and imaginative play. 

• Make reading an important part of your family life. 

• Respect your child's interests in writing and reading. 

• Suggest imaginative ways to write for school and for fun. 

Preparing ^Kbur Child for Writing 

Your family's attitudes and habits can make learning to write 
natural and fun for your child rather than hard and frustrating. 
You can lay a firm foundation for future writing by reading and 
telling stories to your child; by letting your child know that you, 
too, enjoy and learn from books; by respecting your child's 
curiosity and imagination. 

Reading and listening to stories help make writing easier. 
Children who read or hear stories regularly develop a natural 
understanding of how sentences, ideas and narratives work, and 
so have a much easier time later when these skills are "taught" to 
them in school. Reading can also make your child more eager to 
write. Just as young sports fans long to go out onto the playing 
fields, so children who love reading want to make up their own 
stories and poems. 

Here are three ways to prepare your child for writing: 

1. Read aloud to your children, even when they are very little. 

When you read aloud, children get not only a good story but also 
a moment of intimacy with you that adds to their good feeling 
about books and writing. Also, the fact that you take the trouble 
to read shows that you respect the written word. Keep reading 
aloud even after children can read on their own. You can read 
more advanced books than your child is reading, or return to old 
favorites together. As children listen, they come to see that 
different kinds of writing have different effects on us. 

2. Encourage children to read by taking them to the library. 

Give books as presents. Be patient. Don't worry if at first your 
child is interested only in comics. Children who enjoy reading 
simple books will move on to more mature ones. 



3. Answer your children's questions and listen to their stories. 

If children think that you don't care about what they say, they 
will not feel confident about expressing themselves, aloud or on 
paper. Also, your explanations help them understand how to 
organize their own thoughts. 



Writing with children helps them learn to organize their ideas and 
stories and to think of themselves as authors. Here are a jew ways to 
have fun "writing' with children who can't yet write on their own. 

"Tell me a story." Ask your child to tell you a stoiy. Write it 
down as it is told. Don't worry if you are a slow writer. While 
waiting for you to finish copying a line, your child will be think- 
ing about what happens next in the story. If your child loses 
track of the story, you can help by reading it back and by asking 
questions like: "So then what happened?" or "What about the 
bad pirate?" Be careful not to "steal" the story by making too 
many suggestions. Children might take your contributions as 
criticisms, and end up feeling as if they've failed. 

The team story. This is a good party game. Ask your child and 
some friends to form a circle and take turns making up one big 
story together. If the children are shy, you can start it off. Keep 
going until everyone has had a turn or the story feels finished, 
then read it back with gusto. You'll be surprised by how much 
fun this is. 

Playtime. Young children spend much of their free time 
pretending they are other people — superheroes, princesses, 
astronauts. Creating a play is a natural literary form for children. 
Have your child (perhaps with some friends) dictate a play or 
story to you. When it is finished, the children can act it out. 
Let them change the play as they act it out, if they wish. 

"Publication." Just like adult authors, children write to 
entertain themselves, but they also like to have other people 
appreciate their work. There are many ways to "publish" your 
children's writing. You can put it up on a bulletin board or the 
refrigerator. You can type it, read it aloud, or photocopy it and 
give it to family, friends and teachers. You can also make a 
child's writing into little books (with illustrations by the author) 
and keep them on a special shelf. 

It is perfecdy all right to take dictation from your child even after 
they can write on their own. As long as children enjoy the 
experience, it is good for the development of their writing. 




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Writing for School 

Much of your child's writing will be done at school. One way to 
help your child enjoy school writing is to take an interest in it. 
Give special praise for those compositions based on imaginative 
assignments — stories, poems, etc. — because these are the sort 
your child is most likely to want to try doing independently. 

If a child enjoys writing in school, provide the time and space at 
home to continue writing and encourage imaginative 
experiments. If your child is bored by school writing assignments, 
try to find ways of making them more interesting. Say the assign- 
ment is to answer the question "What is love?" One way of 
answering is to be wacky: "Love is a school bus full of rutabagas." 
Another is to be honest: "1 don't know what love is. Sometimes I 
hate the people I am supposed to love...." Remember, many 
teachers like surprising responses. 

Writing at Home 

Many children begin writing on their own at home simply because 
it is fun. For some this is a natural outgrowth of writing with their 
parents. Other children need encouragement. 

The first thing you should do to encourage your child to write at home is 
provide the basics that all writers need, young or old: 

• The tools of the trade: paper, pencils and pens; 
if possible a typewriter or computer. 

• A place to write that is comfortable and quiet. 

• Time enough not only to write but to look for inspiration by 
daydreaming and letting the imagination wander. 

You can make writing special by allowing your child to use your 
desk, your typewriter or computer, or just your favorite pen. You 
can fold several sheets of typing paper in half, staple the folded 
edge, and say, "Here is an empty book, ready to be filled!" 

Don't be pushy. Encouraging your child to write is a delicate 
matter. Many children react to pressure by becoming afraid of 
failure. Many children don't want to write because they're afraid of 
making spelling mistakes. Tell children that when they write 
poems and stories for themselves, they don't have to spell every- 
thing right. Only when children are ready to revise or publish their 
writing do they need to go over spelling, punctuation, etc. School 
homework is a required activity for children, but writing poems and 
stories at home ought to be voluntary — suggested only as a way of 
having fun. Children will write a lot if they enjoy it. 



If your children already like to write at home, it is probably best not to 
meddle. Children will enjoy writing more if they feel that it is really their 
own. But if they ask for help, or you see that they are running out of 
inspiration, here are a few ideas you could try: 

• Riddles. Ask your child to describe something without revealing 
what the thing is. Example: "I come from a land where everything 
is upside-down. 1 have a pocket but 1 don't wear clothes. I have 
four legs but I don't walk. What am 1?" (Answer: a kangaroo.) 
Writing riddles improves children's ability to describe accurately. 

• Apologies. Suggest that your child write a series of apologies for 
wild offenses. Example: "I'm sorry 1 told your mother that a pack 
of meat-eating butterflies had eaten your litde sister, but I couldn't 
think of anything else to say and I didn't know she'd believe me." 
To make a surprising apology, your children will have to visualize a 
situation vividly. 

• Impossible day. Suggest that your child write a story about a day 
when only impossible things happened. Example: "While my 
father was riding his crayon, a camel flew in and kissed my mother 
on the cheek." The more impossible, the better. The joy of this 
type of story is that it invites children to search their minds for 
startling words and combinations. 

• First sentences. Help your child start a story by providing a first 
sentence that sets up a strange or intriguing situation. For ex- 
ample: "On Saturday morning I noticed a flower beginning to grow 
out of the center of my forehead." Or, "When we reached the 
mountaintop, we found a rope hanging from the sky." It takes 
creative and connected thinking to make an attractive story out of 
such ideas. 

• Photostories. Suggest that children flip through a magazine until 
they find an interesting photograph. Then, have them write a story 
(without reading the caption or article) that describes what hap- 
pened before, during and after the photograph was taken. This 
idea also works well with paintings and family photographs, 
particularly if they are of people or places the children have never 
known. Whatever the subject matter, the story will help your 
children think logically and creatively about events. 

• Dialogues. Suggest that your child write a conversation between 
two related objects, like a pencil and paper, a fork and meat, their 
own feet and the sidewalk. How would it feel to be the floor? How 
would it feel to be feet? Creating dialogues helps children think 
about the ways objects or ideas are linked. 



Your response to your children's writing is all-important If you are 
proud of what they have written at home or at school, they will also be 
proud and will want to do more. If you are indifferent or too critical, 
they will find writing much more difficult. 

• First point out what you like in your child's writing. Praising 
children's strengths is a much more effective way of helping them 
to write well than pointing out weaknesses. You can always 
find something to praise. Be specific and honest. If you praise 
everything uniformly, your praise will lose its effect. 

• Be very gende with your criticisms, especially with beginning 
writers. Always introduce your concerns after some praise. 
Remember that your main purpose is not to rum the child into a 
Shakespeare, but to encourage the child to enjoy writing. As long 
as children keep writing, they will improve. 

• Praise what is unique or unexpected in your child's work, even 
if it seems a bit out of place, for it is in such unconventional parts 
that children are often truest to their own way of seeing things. 

If children feel free to be "different," they are much more likely to 
value writing as a mode of genuine self-expression. 

• Don't worry if your child wants to write only about super- 
heroes or puppies. A child who enjoys writing will inevitably 
move on to other topics. 

Teachers & Writers Collaborative was founded by a 
group of writers and educators in 1967 to send writers into 
schools and to publish and distribute materials about teaching 
writing. T&W writers work with children and teachers, giving 
them an understanding and appreciation of literary traditions and a sense of 
the methods and motives of writers. T&W houses the Center for Imaginative 
Writing, a resource library and meeting place. For more information write: 
Teachers and Writers Collaborative 
5 Union Square West, New York, New York 10003 
Stephen O'Connor and William Bryant Logan developed this brochure. 




* 




The National Endowment for the Arts, an 

independent federal agency, was founded by Congress in 
1965 to foster excellence in the arts throughout the United 
States, to help broaden the publics understanding of the arts and 
provide broader access to the nation's rich cultural resources. NEA's 
Arts in Education Program focuses on increasing and improving arts 
programs in the nation's schools. For more information write: Arts in 
Education, National Endowment for the Arts, 1100 Pennsylvania 
Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20506 



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Dance is essential to 
general education for 
boys and girls. Dance 
education beginning 
in early childhood 
and continuing 
throughout life 
benefits the body, 
mind and spirit. 




TH6AMS — XND DXNC6 IN 
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FULFILL THE HUMXN SPIRJT. 
THCf^e IS PEI^HXPS NO SiTliK 
DESCRIPTION OF eDUCXTION 
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Dance education has many benefits: 

• Physical. Dance helps to increase flexibility, improve 
circulation, tone the body and develop muscles. It also im- 
proves posture, balance and coordination. 

• Intellectual. Dance enriches learning through a variety of 
perspectives, both traditional and experimental. 

• Esthetic. Dance awakens consciousness of beauty, lending 
new meaning to movement and form. 

• Cultural. Dance increases understanding and appreciation for 
forms, choices and rituals from a broad range of historical, social 
and cultural perspectives. 

• Emotional. Dance helps develop self-confidence and self- 
esteem in a stimulating environment. 

• Social. Dance improves sensitivity, understanding, apprecia- 
tion and consideration for others, both for their similarities and 
differences. 



Dance Engages the Whole Person 

Although dance can be great exercise, it is primarily an artfonn and 
an esthetic expression ojmind and body. Dance as an art form has 
three dimensions: 

• Learning. Like other art forms, dance helps us to perceive 
and communicate who we are. 

• Knowledge. Dance has its own body of knowledge which can 
be shared, passed on and enlarged. 

• Experience. The very nature of dance is best discovered 
through experiencing it. In this it is almost unique as an art 
form, and very special as part of a child's education. 

By combining these three dimensions, dance engages the whole 
person in simultaneously moving, thinking and feeling. Thus 
dance education can enhance your child's physical, mental and 
emotional development. This holds for boys and girls alike. 



For young children, dance offers avenues for exploration, 
discovery and the development of natural instincts for move- 
ment. Dance activities offer many benefits for children, encour- 
aging mental and emotional development as well as obviously 
enhancing motor skills. 

Dancing gives the young child a chance to experience and 
understand both personal and social perspectives in a stimulat- 
ing situation. Dancing offers opportunities to express thoughts 
and feelings and to understand other's thoughts and feelings. 

The dynamic balance of dance's physical, mental and emotional 
aspects should be present in dance education, regardless of 
whether the child plans to pursue a career in dance. As in other 
arts disciplines, professional preparation in dance demands 
years of rigorous education, training and practice. 

What you can do to get your child started in dance 

As a parent, you can offer your child early exposure to the art of 
dance and movement through many activities: 

• Encourage your child to experience movement Ask ques- 
tions like "How many ways can you balance yourself besides 
standing?" and "How many different ways can you move your 
head (arms, leg, upper body)?" Questions like these will help 
your child become aware of his body and its relationship to 
other people and the environment. 

• Provide a place and times for your child to explore and 
invent movement Have her tell a story by acting it out with 
body movements. Or, ask him to move with different types of 
walks (downhill, on parade, stiff, up stairs) or to pretend to use 
different kinds of vehicles (bicycle, skateboard, car, horse, etc.). 

• Encourage the child to relate movement to rhythm. This can 
be as simple as getting a child to clap, rock or hop to music or a 
rhythmic beat. Your child may also enjoy moving or dancing to 
familiar songs and nursery rhymes. The goal is to get the child 
to experience movement as it relates to music or rhythm. 

• Allow the child to experiment with basic movements. Walk- 
ing, running, jumping, skipping and such are basic locomotor 
movements. Bending, stretching, twisting and swinging are 
non-locomotor movements. By varying the size, level and 
direction of these basics, children discover a large number of 
movements which can be combined to form basic dance steps. 



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educators and teacher organizations increasingly recognize 
creative movement as integral to children's development, and 
there are a number of exemplary dance education programs in 
elementary schools. But unfortunately, well-balanced dance 
programs are not found consistently in our schools today. As a 
parent you can do two things to ensure good dance education 
for your child. 

First, look into the situation in your school and school district. 
Find what importance is given to dance and advocate making it 
a high priority. Second, look into private instruction in studios, 
community centers, parks* and recreation programs, summer 
camps and other enterprises such as YWCAs. 

In both cases, assure yourself that a dance program is appropri- 
ate for your child's physical and social development and that it 
is educationally sound. The following information may help 
you review the dance instruction in your local school, private 
studio or other setting. 

Evaluating Teachers and Classes 

Ask the following questions about the teacheris) who might instruct 
your child. In an ideal situation all the answers will he yes: 

• Can I observe the class before enrolling my child? 

• Does the teacher seem aware of the physical, emotional and 
social development and needs of the students? 

• Does the teacher seem enthusiastic about the work? 

• Is the teacher supportive of each student's abilities, potential 
and goals? 

• Does the teacher use imaginative, varied and interesting 
approaches to the material being taught? 

• Is the teacher well trained and qualified? 

• Does the teacher seem well prepared and able to effectively 
communicate his or her knowledge? 

• Is the teacher familiar with human anatomy and the proper 
use of the body? 

In the same spirit, ask these questions about the classes: 

• Are the students grouped according to age, physical abilities 
and social development? 

• Are class and time allotments appropriate for the age group? 



• Does the teacher give time for movement exploration? 

• Does the class provide satisfaction and enjoyment? 

• Is required attire appropriate and comfortable? 

The following class sizes and durations are suggested: 
Ages 3-5 7-15 students 30-45 minutes 

Ages 6-8 20 students 45-60 minutes 

Ages 9-12 25 students 60-90 minutes 

Facilities 

A good place for dance classes offers the following: 

• A space that is clean, well ventilated, well lit and free of 
obstructions. 

• A floor that is resilient and well maintained. (A suspended 
wood floor is best to avoid physical stress, but certain treatments 
over cement and tile can accommodate dance that does not 
include a great deal of landing from jumps.) 

• Floor space that is adequate for the class size and the age 
of the participants, ideally 100 square feet per student. 

• Adequate space for changing clothes. 

• Access to drinking water and restrooms. 



Other Considerations 

• Dance class should not over-stress the body. 

• Major portions of the class should not be devoted to 
performances or preparing for recitals. 

• Dance for children should concentrate on individualization, 
creativity and movement exploration. 

• Formal instruction in specific dance forms should not begin 
before age 7 or 8 depending on the development of the child and 
previous experience. 

• Pointe work (ballet dancing on "toe' 1 ) should not begin before 
there is well -developed body coordination, adequate strength, 
proper skeletal alignment and working body placement. Special 
attention must be given to the development of the feet, legs and 
back. Very few children should start pointe work before age 11. 



For more information, you may want to consult the following books: 

Jacob, Ellen. (1981). Dancing: A Guide to the Dancer You Can Be. 
Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co. 

Loren, Ten. (1978). Dancer's Companion. New York: 
The Dial Press. 

These pamphlets may be purchased from the 
National Dance Association: 

DANCE: A Career for You . 

Dance Curricula Guidelines K-12 

Dance Education - What Is It? Why Is It Important? 

Guide to Creative Dance for the Young Child 

Dance Scholarship Directory 

Dance Resource Guide 

Stinson, Susan. Dance for the Young Child. 

Children's Dance. 



# 



The National Dance Association represents 
practitioners of every aspect of dance and dance education in 
the United States and abroad. Through publications, 
symposia, workshops and resource papers, NDA promotes 
quality dance and dance education for all levels, populations, 
ages and cultures. 

National Dance Association 

1900 Association Drive, Reston, VA 22091-1502 
Tel: 703/476-3436 Fax: 703/476-9527 




The National Endowment for the Arts, an 

independent federal agency, was founded by Congress in 
1965 to foster excellence in the arts throughout the United 
States, to help broaden the publics understanding of the 
arts and provide broader access to the nation's rich 
cultural resources. NEA's Arts in Education Program 
focuses on increasing and improving arts programs in the 
nation's schools. Eor more information write: Arts in 
Education, National Endowment for the Arts, 1100 
Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20506 


















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The visual arts interpret and reflect 
life. Through studying art, children 
gain valuable insights about the world 
along with knowledge and skills they 
can use throughout their lives. 



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Art education — appreciation courses, hands-on art classes, 
museum visits and parent-assisted activities — helps children 
develop their own creative skills and understand the artistic 
work of others. By encouraging visual arts education, you will 
help your children to: 

• respond to what they see in art and in the world around them; 

• perceive and grasp relationships in their environment; 

• think creatively while developing skills in drawing, painting, 
sculpting, designing, crafting, etc; 

• gain manipulative and organizing skills through their own 
creative work; 

• learn about humankind's vast cultural heritage; 

• understand the nature of art and the creative process; 

• make informed esthetic judgments about art. 



To educate children, parents along with teachers and museum 
professionals must keep in mind each student's interests as well 
as his intellectual, social and esthetic maturity. The instruction 
should be interesting in order to stimulate intellectual growth. 
Not all activities should get the same emphasis at each age or for 
each student. Find opportunities that allow your child to: 

• Take close looks at both natural and cultural 
objects of many kinds. 

• Find outlets for expressing perceptions and feelings through a 
variety of art forms suited to the child's abilities and preferences. 

• Experiment with different materials and methods in order to 
understand their different properties. 

• Evaluate and review the child's work so that the youngster 
gains understanding of formal structure and the potential for 
developing line, form, color, shape and texture. 

• Read about, look at, and discuss works of art from other past 
and modern cultures; to do this, use different educational, 
media and community resources. 

• Evaluate the child's works of art as well as those of artists past 
and present. 

• See artists and designers at work in classroom and museum 
demonstrations, on film and video. 

• Engage in arts activities — museum visits, tours of art schools, 
participation in art classes — to apply new knowledge the child 
has gained. 



You, Your Child and the Visual Arts 

Here are activities you can use to introduce your child to the 
world of art. Remember that your own attitudes make strong 
impressions on your child. A sense of openness to the visual 
arts of diverse cultures, along with a willingness to ask questions 
about art, are as important for you as for the child. 



At Home and About Town 

"Seeing" versus looking is something you can encourage every 
day. Teach your child to see colors, shapes and textures in the 
world at large. Help your child recognize and understand the 
signs and symbols that abound in our lives. Make a game out of 
identifying elements of art as you ride in the car or take family 
walks. You will discover art all around: in local architecture, 
monuments, billboards, a park's design, the patterns of streets 
and signs as well as in traditional arts and crafts. 

Encourage your child to react to visual stimuli — colors, shapes, 
sizes, textures and materials — found in art dealing with a wide 
range of situations and subjects. Some will be more engaging 
than others. Children generally prefer bright colors, realism and 
familiar subject matter. 

To help get children involved: 

• Find a wall at home that your children can use to display 
reproductions or original art that they have created. Or set up 
an exhibition in an "art corner." 

• Provide a space in which your child can explore different 
media such as paints, crayons and clay. (Pick an easy-to-clean 
space and dress in washables.) 

• Make available various two- and three-dimensional materials: 
paper to cut-and-paste, blocks to build. 

• Ask the art teacher at school about appropriate materials for 
your child at different development levels. 






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To keep interest alive: 

• Encourage and compliment your child's creative efforts. Ask 
the youngster to tell you about the art. Do NOT say what you 
think is "wrong" with it or how you think it should be done. 

• Remind yourself that complex and fine motor skills take time 
to develop. Offer experiences that strengthen skills already 
learned. Provide materials and tools that broaden the range of 
creativity. 

• Remember that many children paint and draw for no other 
reason than the pleasure it gives them. These activities can be 
easily fostered. 



At the Museum, Gallery or Arts Center 

Planned in advance, a visit to a local art center, gallery or 
museum can be rewarding, exciting and stimulating for both 
parent and child. Your state arts agency or local council can 
provide information about art exhibitions — where they are, 
and what there is to see. Ask about programs designed for 
children and about parent-and-child events. 

Take time to plan your visit so that it meets your child's 
physical and learning needs. Identify in advance the exhibit 
areas and art works you wish to see. Learn where benches, 
restrooms and cafeterias are located. 

Don't overwhelm or tire children by overdoing it. If you are 
visiting a large museum, stay in two or three galleries, depend- 
ing on the child's age and abilities. A number of short visits 
are better than a long one that is overwhelming. 

By listening carefully to your child before planning a trip, you 
will learn what things he or she is most interested in seeing. 
Remember to meet a child's physical need for movement and 
change while engaged in "seeing and appreciating." If a child 
expresses interest in a work of art you did not select, spend 
time with it. Children may get frustrated at having to view art 
selected for them, rather than what they choose for themselves. 



Younger children have both a shorter attention span and lower 
level of retention. For the very young, pictures and drawings 
in books can spark interest in the visual arts and you can build 
from there. It is a good idea to have children view works of art 
on several occasions. They will remember some vividly, while 
a second visit and talking about the works will reinforce first 
impressions. 

Also, it is good to encourage children to respond to pictures, 
sculptures and crafts in their own way. Resist the urge to tell 
them what they should see, feel or think. After a first experi- 
ence, you can discuss the art, listening to the child's 
interpretation. Then share information you have about the 
work, the artist who made it, and how it was achieved. The 
facts you want to share should be appealing and easy to 
understand. 

A Word of Warning: At the first sign of boredom, fatigue or 
disinterest, take a rest or quit for the day! 



More suggestions for making the arts enjoyable: 

• Museum shops sell postcards, posters of art works and 
books about art and artists written especially for children. 
Your child may want to buy a book or reproduction of a 
particular favorite. 

• Emphasize what the child understands and learns. Make 
connections with what he already knows. Ask what she is 
studying in school that relates to pictures you saw. Tie your 
"seeing" experiences into those subjects. 



Special Art Classes 

To get professional arts training for your child, check with 
your school's art teacher, or with your local or state arts agency 
for the names of qualified instructors and schools. 



For more information about how to offer your child learning 
opportunities in art, consult the following pamphlets and hooks: 

Purposes, Principles, and Standards for School Art Programs. 
National Art Education Association, 1916 Association Drive, 
Reston,VA 22091. 

Beyond Creating: The Place for Art in Americas Schools. J. Paul 
Getty Center for Education in the Arts, 401 Wilshire Boulevard, 
Suite 950, Santa Monica, CA 90401 

The Role of Imagery in Learning by Harry S. Broudy. 
Getty Center for Education in the Arts. 

Art Education and Human Development by Howard Gardner. 
Getty Center for Education in the Arts. 

Looking at Paintings by Susan Woodford, Cambridge University 
Press, 1983. 

Art Appreciation for the Popsicle Generation by Lauann Brown, 
Good Apple, Inc. 1948. 

Children and Their Art by Charles D. Gaitskill and Al Hurwitz, 
Harcourt Brace Javanovich, 1982. 

Emphasis Art: A Qualitative Art Program for Elementary and 
Middle Schools by Frank Wachowiak, Harper and Row, 1985. 

Creative and Mental Growth by Victor Lowenfeld and W. 
Lambert Brittain, Macmillan, 1987. 

The National Art Education Association, founded in 
|JD 1947, is the largest professional art education association in 
the world. Members include elementary and secondary 
teachers, artists, administrators, museum educators, art 
council staff members and university professors throughout the United 
States and 66 foreign countries. NAEA's mission is to advance art 
education through professional development, service, advancement of 
knowledge and leadership. For information write: NAEA, 1916 
Association Drive, Reston, VA 22091 




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The National Endowment for the Arts, an 

independent federal agency, was founded by Congress in 
1 965 to foster excellence in the arts throughout the United 
States, to help broaden the public's understanding of the arts and 
provide broader access to the nations rich cultural resources. NEA's 
Arts in Education Program focuses on increasing and improving arts 
programs in the nations schools. For more information write: 
National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, D.C. 20506 



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Why should your child study 
music? From elementary 
school onwards, music 
study helps children acquire 
knowledge, skills and 
attitudes that influence them 
throughout their lives. 
In addition to learning music 
for its own sake, children 
who participate in music 
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As a parent, you can encourage your child's love of music and 
nurture his or her musical talents in a number of ways: By 
listening to good music programs and recordings together, by 
attending musical events and making music as a family, by 
praising children for their musical activities and accomplish- 
ments. As a result of music-listening and music-making experi- 
ences, elementary school children can become better listeners 
and develop musical intelligence. They also develop pride and 
a sense of accomplishment as young musicians. 

Suggested Activities 

Listening to music, moving to music and playing musical games 
are best for small children and good for elementary students as 
well. By ages five to eight, many children are ready for one-on- 
one music lessons. You can help your child choose an instru- 
ment by consulting the school music teacher and by noticing 
what sounds your child most enjoys while listening to music. 
If you decide to supplement lessons offered at the school with 
private lessons, you can find a good teacher by asking the school 
music teacher or the music faculty at a local university for 
recommendations . 

Group classes are particularly supportive for young children. 
In the early stages, a parent should be in the room with the 
child during at-home practice periods to offer encouragement 
and praise and to request specific songs ("That was really good! 
Would you play it again for me?") It is impossible to give any 
child too much encouragement. Success at music-making 
bolsters self-esteem. 

When To Start 

• Children can begin piano lessons whenever they can 
sit on a piano bench and concentrate. 

• Stringed-instrument study can begin very early 
(if scaled-down instruments are used) — 
preferably by grade four. 

• Study on wind instruments should begin by grade five. 



You can invest in your child's future by ensuring that your 
school has good music programs, taught by certified music 
specialists in general music, instrumental music and choral 
instruction from pre-kindergarten through high school. 



What to Look For in Elementary School 

• Opportunities for all students: to sing, move to music, and 
learn to play classroom instruments; to develop skills in per- 
forming, reading, creating, listening to and describing music; to 
learn to use music vocabulary and read and write music nota- 
tion; to develop enjoyment of and sensitivities to music; to 
explore music from a variety of cultures. 

• Opportunities for students to participate in both choral and 
instrumental music starting in grade four. 

• Special experiences for gifted and handicapped students. 

• Instruction by certified music educators supplemented by 
classroom teachers. 

• Adequate textbooks, printed music, instruments, equipment, 
recordings and other music materials. 

• Music rooms that have adequate space, ventilation and light 
as well as access to a good piano, risers, audiovisual equipment 
and a good sound system. 

Students in grades one through three should learn to enjoy and 
explore music. By the end of grade three, students should 
realize that music is an important part of everyday life and be 
able to perform and create it. They should be able to use music 
as a means of individual expression and to listen to the creations 
of other people with respect, curiosity and pleasure. 

Students in grades four through six should build on the skills 
they developed earlier. By the end of grade six, they should be 
able to participate in music activities by singing and playing 
instruments. They should enjoy listening to most types of 
music, and be able to describe musical works and discuss their 
personal responses to them. 



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At every age, your child should have regular opportunities to: 

• hear, sing or play music with and for family and friends 
in a relaxed setting. 

• take part in community music events that relate directly to 
the child's own culture and that involve distinctly different 
cultures. 

• join you in watching music and arts programs on televi- 
sion. (To make the most of these experiences, ask your child 
questions about the program afterward — not during the 
performance.) 

How to Make Your Child's life Musical 

• Encourage your child to participate in general music 
classes and performing ensembles. 

• When school offers band or string instrument instruction, 
help your child choose an instrument. 

• Visit the classroom to gain a better understanding of what 
takes place in the music program. 

• Volunteer to chaperon trips to music events and work to 
bring outstanding performers to your child's school. 

• Attend concerts with your child. 

• Help with home practice and set scheduled practice times. 
Set up a well-lit, quiet practice area free from distractions. 
Ask your child to play for you and others, and give sincere 
and frequent praise. Do not be overly critical; the music 
teacher will correct problems. Listen and show enthusiasm 
for your child's efforts and achievements. 



The following publications provide more detailed information. 

Growing Up Complete: The Imperative for Music Education. Report 
of the National Commission on Music Education, 1991. $7.95 

Action Kit for Music Education. This includes two books includ- 
ing Building Support for School Music, two videotapes; and four 
brochures to help conduct a local advocacy campaign. 1991. 
$37.50. 

The School Music Program: Description and Standards. Guidelines 
for music curricula, K to 12. $10.50. 

Music in Today's Schools: Rationale and Commentary. A concise 
explanation of why music is important in every child's 
education. $4.00. 

Guidelines for Performances of School Music Groups: Expectations 
and Limitations. $7.50. 

These publications are available from: 

Music Educators National Conference 

1902 Association Drive 
Reston, Virginia 22091 



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2 The Music Educators National Conference (MENC) 

is the only national association that addresses all aspects of 
music education: hand, chorus, orchestra, general music, 
teacher education and research. More than 60,000 members 
represent all levels of teaching from pre-kindergarten to 
postdoctoral levels. Since 1907, MENC has worked to ensure 
that every student has access to a well-balanced and compre- 
hensive school music program. 

The National Endowment for the Arts, an 

independent federal agency, was founded by Congress in 
1965 to foster excellence in the arts throughout the United 
States, to help broaden the publics understanding of the 
arts and provide broader access to the nations rich 
cultural resources. NEA's Arts in Education Program 
focuses on increasing and improving arts programs in the 
nations schools. For more information write: Arts in 
Education, National Endowment for the Arts, 1100 
Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20506 




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Children of all ages love to pretend, 
to enter worlds of the imagination. 
As toddlers, they mimic things they 
see in everyday life. By elementary 
school age, they act out stories, 
creating original plots or adapting 
fairy tales and real-life events. By 
middle school they're ready for more 
formal play-acting: going on stage to 
present prepared scripts, whether 
scenes from the classics or their own 
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(children enter the world of make-believe first as toddlers when 
they discover the soul of theater by engaging in activities they see 
around them and by putting themselves in the places of others. 
This activity involves mind, body and imagination. It is dramatic 
play, what one educator calls "rehearsal for life." An extension of 
ordinary play, creative play — the root of theater — is essential to a 
child's full development. 

As children grow older, their play develops structure. They act 
out favorite stories, create original situations from life experi- 
ences, and imagine themselves in fantasy worlds where anything 
is possible. If they are encouraged in this kind of play at home, 
they become ready for creative drama by the time they enter 
primary school. As essential as dramatic play is to a child's 
healthy development, creative drama is an art form, a socializing 
activity and a means of learning. At this point, guidance by an 
experienced teacher or leader is needed, someone to guide the 
drama, to help the young players deepen their experiences and 
express themselves more effectively. 

Creative drama is not acting as adults think of it. It requires no 
script or memorized lines. It is improvised and centers on 
children as the participants. Older children often want to extend 
the process and present their work for an audience. This is fine, 
so long as the desire to "go public" comes from them, for it is the 
process rather than the product that is important for youngsters. 

In middle school or junior high, many children become ready for 
what most people think of as the "theater arts" which involve a 
stage, actors and a play. This implies theater's formal elements: 
acting, directing, scene and costume design, as well as technical 
concerns such as stage management, set building, lighting, 
publicity, etc. 

Besides creating theater in its many forms, children also benefit 
from seeing it. Children's theater, comprising an ever-growing 
diversity of companies and scripts, is an excellent introduction to 
lifelong enjoyment of theater. 

For young children the theater arts are best used informally and 
playfully. This offers pre-kindergarten and elementary-age 
children opportunities to make theater that is a natural extension 
of their physical, intellectual and emotional lives. Creative drama 
builds on the universal human desire to understand our world 
by imitating and reenacting it. 

As a parent, you can help your child enjoy dramatic play, even if 
you have had no theater background or experience. First of all, 



you can encourage your child to play. Enter into the game, taking cues 
as to your role. For example, your daughter may want you to be a 
storekeeper or a customer, a doctor or a patient, a bus driver or 
passenger, depending on which character she wants to be. Provide a 
place for creative drama. This could be a corner of the child's room 
where toys are kept. "Props" can be simple and commonplace. For 
instance, a scarf can become a shawl, a sash or any number of things. 
Hats can denote different characters. Baskets, bags and plastic 
dishes are all useful props. 

Dramatic play need not be confined to one space, for it is 
spontaneous and the impulse to enact a character or imitate an 
action is rarely planned in advance. Chances are it will be brief and 
fragmentary, although as children grow older the game becomes 
longer and more detailed. Favorite stories and activities are often 
repeated, but even with repetition new ideas are constantly gener- 
ated, thus fostering continued imaginative growth for the children. 

Read aloud and tell stories. Good literature suggests many 
possibilities and discourages a tendency to imitate situations seen on 
television. However, many ideas may come from real life issues, even 
for very young children. 

Finally, enjoy these spontaneous moments. Remember that they are 
the child's first engagement with an art form and can lead to lifelong 
pleasure. You are not encouraging a career in the theater; you are 
helping in the development of a human being through this most 
human of the arts, the theater. 

What Does Creative Drama Offer to Young Children? 

Creative drama provides many benefits, among them: 

• Development of imagination and esthetic awareness 

• Independent and critical thinking 

• Social growth and the ability to work with others 

• Improved communication skills 

• Healthy release of emotion 

• Knowledge of self 

• Fun and recreation 

• An introduction to the theater 

What Do You, as a Parent, Get Out of It? 

Creative drama offers benefits for parents too: 

• Quality time spent with your young child in creative moments. 

• Valuable insights into the observations, impressions, interests, 
fears and humor that your child reveals. 

• Fun! You can both enjoy dramatic play for the pure fun of it. 



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Because creative drama is a group activity requiring skilled leader- 
ship, you should check with your child's teacher or principal to see 
whether it is already part of the school program. It may be that 
you will want to look further to find opportunities in your commu- 
nity for classes in the performing arts. While many schools are 
now adding theater to the curriculum, unfortunately it is absent in 
most elementary schools. Therefore, you should look for available 
resources in the following places: 

• Community centers and city and county recreation 
departments. 

• Libraries, museums, churches, playgrounds and camps, 
; YMCAsandYWCAs. 

• Local colleges and universities for year-round or summer 
" classes for children. 

• Performing arts centers, professional and community theaters. 

Many facilities have splendid programs in the arts. Visit classes, 
check the age levels of the children and the preparation of the 
teachers. Classes in creative drama, puppetry, mime and dance 
offer enrichment beyond whatever the school provides. Again, for 
the young child, the chance to explore creatively and act spontane- 
ously is more valuable than pressured situations involving either a 
performance for an audience or a predetermined product. 

While creative drama involves children as active participants, 
children's theater engages them as audience. Plays range from 
entertainment for the primary grades to more mature material 
designed for junior high school. Many adult plays can be enjoyed 
by older teenagers and (depending on the subject matter and the 
style of the production) by younger audiences as well. 

Children's theater companies should be checked carefully before 
taking a child to a performance or engaging a company for a 
school assembly. Many plays are over-simplified for the very 
young, with occasional lines aimed at die adults in the audience; 
this is a condescending practice and children are quick to perceive 
it. Some good sources of information about children's theater 
companies are: theater departments of colleges and universities; 
newspaper reviews, if available; local or state arts councils; the 
American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE). In addition, 
many regional arts agencies support touring theaters for children 
and young audiences. Your state arts council can put you in touch 
with the regional organization for your area. 



Going to the theater has many benefits for children, among them: 

• Appreciation of theater as an esthetic experience. 

• Increased awareness of social and cultural values. 

• Sharing in a communal art form. 

• Increased knowledge of history and human events. 

Elements of a Good Production 

By attending children's theater regularly, both parent and child 
gain personal likes and dislikes and can grasp what is an excellent 
production as opposed to one that is poor or merely competent. 
If you have not attended children's theater regularly, here are 
some elements that characterize a good production, along with 
some questions concerning each element. Not every criterion will 
apply to every production. 

• A Good Story: Children's theater today is wide-ranging, 
offering plays from traditional fairy tales to homelessness and drug 
abuse. Whatever the topic, a good production will clarify its 
subject. Did you leam something new or gain a new insight 
through the play? 

• Credible Characters: A "willing suspension of disbelief is 
necessary for viewing theater, but the characters should be 
believable. Did actions seem totally out-of-character for someone 
in the play? If so, did you lose interest in the action? 

• Excellent Performance Skills (acting, dance, music, and any 
other skills called for such as juggling, fencing, etc.): Do the skills 
support the believability of the characters? Are they at a level 
befitting the expectations of the actors, both in terms of the 
amateur or professional status of the company and the actions of 
the characters? 

• Effective Visual Elements: Do scenery, costumes, and 
lighting help transport you to the place and time of the play? Are 
they visually appealing? In cases where scenery and lighting are 
minimal or absent, did the production stimulate your imagination 
in other effective ways? 

• Challenging Ideas: A good script can provoke thought, bring 
new ideas to light, perhaps help you look at a facet of life in a 
new or different way. Ask your child what he or she got from a 
performance. Try open-ended questions such as: What did you 
see on the stage? What was a particular character trying to do? 
What happened at the very beginning? The discussion you are 
likely to have may surprise you. 



• Insight into Other Cultures: Theater can take us in time and 
place to other communities and cultures. Did the production 
help you to learn about cultural or ethnic traditions? If the play 
was in the present time, were there characters of culturally diverse 
backgrounds reflecting contemporary society? 

• Strong Emotional Response and Involvement in the Plot: 

Were you moved by the action of the play? Tears or laughter are 
sure signs that the playwright and actors reached you. While 
emotions can't always be verbalized, a discussion with your child 
about his or her feelings about what happened can benefit both of you. 

Children's theater includes a wide range of subject matter: folk 
and fairy tales; contemporary social issues, adventure stories; 
historical and biographical dramas. The form may be the straight 
dramatic play, the musical, documentary, or movement theater. 
In every case, however, the story line or theme should be clear 
and honesdy presented and the production should be enjoyable. 



The American Alliance for Theatre & Education: Artists & 
Educators Serving Young People, a professional organization, 
promotes the highest standards of excellence in drama and theater 
education for children and youth. We provide the theater educator 
and theater artist with a network of resources and support, a base 
for advocacy, and programs and projects that focus on the impor- 
tance of drama in the human experience. For more information, 
contact: 

American Alliance for Theatre & Education 

Department of Theatre 
Arizona State University 
Tempe,AZ 85287 



The National Endowment for the Arts, an independent 
federal agency, was founded by Congress in 1965 to foster 
excellence in the arts throughout the United States, to help 
broaden the public's understanding of the arts and provide 
broader access to the nations rich cultural resources. NEA's 
Arts in Education Program focuses on increasing and improving 
arts programs in the nation's schools. For more information 
write: Arts in Education, National Endowment for the Arts, 
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20506 




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