4 Ways to Involve Kids with Disabilities in the Arts

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Children who have learning disabilities can become extraordinarily successful individuals (think Walt Disney, for instance); they might just take a different route to get there if traditional classroom instruction isn’t working well for them.

One way to instill confidence in kids with learning disabilities is through the arts – a paintbrush or a musical instrument might be just the ticket a child needs to unlock their confidence and self-esteem.

Here are 4 ways to help your child with learning disabilities enjoy and learn from the arts.

4 Ways to Involve Kids with Disabilities in the Arts

Explore all the Arts

The term “the arts” includes a wide variety of activities, including music, performing arts, visual arts, dance, crafts and more. Explore one or more styles to determine what might work best for your child based on their interests and learning personalities. If your child is an auditory learner, for example, music might be a better choice for them than painting. A few quick descriptions will help:

  • Art: Enhances creativity and gives an appreciation for shapes, dimensions, and textures. Also helps communicate ideas and emotions.
  • Music: Helps develop rhythm, sound, pitch, rhyming, math and more. (See below for more on music.)
  • Crafts: Let kids solve problems and express themselves.
  • Dancing: Helps with motor skills while teaching rhythm, counting, following directions, and working with others.
  • Drama: Performing plays can help with memory retention, teamwork and appreciating literary forms and structures.

How Music Helps

Music promotes brain development in all kids but learning a musical instrument can be particularly helpful for children with learning disabilities. It helps them feel good about themselves and relax, while the rhythm and beat give them a greater sense of logic and organization. Singing can help them focus, while the motions required to play an instrument help improve motor skills; playing music also helps kids to multi-task and become more confident in what they can do.

Choosing the right instrument for your child will depend on a combination of things, including their interest and ability. A child who likes to move around, for instance, will do better with an instrument that allows them to stand and move such as a string bass, clarinet, or percussion instrument. The cello gives kids who have motor skill difficulty room to move their fingers. Read here for specific suggestions about which instruments work well with which disabilities.

How to Involve Kids with Disabilities in the Arts

Create Space

You should give your child a particular space in your house where they have the freedom to express themselves through the arts. Include a desk or table to provide a clean work surface, and stock the room with everything they might need – paints and paintbrushes, paper, crayons, scissors, musical instruments and much more. While the room should be fairly organized to start with, it should also be a place where your kids can make a mess and it really doesn’t matter. Include a designated place in the room to display any work they do and give them a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Keep in mind that you could use this space to teach other children about the arts. For example, if you play an instrument and want to share that knowledge with others, give lessons and teach classes from the comfort of your home. Just remember that you’ll need to make sure you follow local regulations about registering your business with the local government. If you plan to register as an LLC before you start teaching classes, make sure you brush up on your state’s guidelines to ensure you protect yourself and your business.

Join In

Kids will be delighted if you join in experiencing the arts along with them. Learn a musical instrument at the same time as your child. Sit down to paint with them. Take them through an art museum. Stay for their dance practice. These gestures will help ease any discomfort or embarrassment kids might feel because of their disability. You desperately want them to succeed, so give them the greatest chance possible.

Teaching the arts to kids with learning disabilities is a fantastic way to help them develop. If they are not using ideas and techniques like this at your child’s school, consider promoting the concept with their teachers. A little creativity goes a long way in raising talented kids with disabilities.

Photo from Unsplash

Article courtesy of Alyssa Strickland

Alyssa Strickland created millennial-parents.com for all the new parents on the block. Alyssa believes the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, but she also thinks it takes a village to raise a parent! Millennial-Parents is that village. Today’s parents can be more connected than ever, and she hopes her site will enrich those connections. On Millennial-Parents, she shares tips and advice she learns through experience and from other young parents in three key areas — Education, Relationships, and Community.

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