Children with learning disabilities, like all other kids, acquire knowledge at their own pace and in their own way. Their physical and academic abilities, however, can make it tough to acclimate fully in a classroom setting. Thankfully, reading, writing, and arithmetic are not the only ways that kids can learn. Art – in every form – is an excellent way to introduce all children to academic concepts without the confines of a classroom.
If you are a parent looking to get your child more involved in artistic endeavors, your first goal is to give them a space to do just that. Look for an area inside of your home that you can transform into their very own creative retreat. Kids might enjoy activities like making paper bag animal puppets or creating their own 3-D animals out of homemade play-dough. Angie’s List offers many additional ideas, and, with a little bit of preparation, your home art room can accommodate even advanced projects. A few things you will need to get started include:
A sturdy, flat table -- look for something large enough for multiple artists to work together.
Art supplies -- finger paints, acrylics, paintbrushes, pastels, and canvases are essential.
Smocks and a drop cloth -- most craft stores have cheap smocks or you can pick them up online, but your local hardware store is the best place for plastic or fabric drop clothes to minimize the mess.
Other forms of art
Putting a pen or paintbrush to paper is not the only art a child with learning or other disabilities can enjoy. Drama is an age-old educational platform, and children of all levels of talent and ability can participate. Encourage them from an early age to play dress-up, which is an excellent lead-in to starring on the stage.
If your children are young, Apartment Therapy suggests putting together a chest of costumes that includes everything from bridesmaid stresses and formal gloves to glasses without lenses. Cowboy boots, a magnifying glass, doctor’s kit, and superhero outfits will open up their imaginary world even further.
Have your children come up with a script of their own and act it out for you and any other viewers of their choice. Help them create flyers to “advertise” their production, and be sure to lavish them with applause. Acting can increase their self-esteem and help them learn about other cultures and times. And you never know, they might find a future career, like Breaking Bad star RJ Mitte, who has cerebral palsy, or Jamie Brewer of American Horror Story fame, who has never let Down Syndrome stop her from basking in the spotlight.
For those who are a bit on the shy side, consider helping them create their own worlds via the written word. Creative writing prompts can help jumpstart their imagination, and writing about topics they enjoy is an excellent way to strengthen the reading intervention approach provided by schools.
Creating lesson plans
Although art is subjective – which makes it that much better for children with learning and physical disabilities – when there is a lesson involved, you will need to craft a catered lesson plan. This might be something as simple as asking them to draw a picture of a banana riding a skateboard to open up a discussion as to why this is an impossible situation. Other ideas are to sculpt clay pots while incorporating a lesson about ancient people, or do crayon rubbings of leaves that have fallen to the ground to talk about how things grow.
Just because your child has learning differences does not mean they can’t thrive, and especially when exposed to art. Creativity is a doorway that is wide open for all. So get organized, and get ready to open up a whole new world for your child.