Article by Lillian Brooks
Children with learning disabilities often struggle with many school-related subjects. Engaging them with the arts offers them big benefits. Here is how being creative can be a boon to your special needs child.
Why the arts? Because children with learning disabilities can face challenges in school, engaging them in activities they feel successful in can boost their self-esteem and promote their opportunities for achievement. According to some professionals, creative outlets offer them a chance to enhance skills in a fun environment which in other settings may feel laborious. Engaging a special needs child in the arts teaches them to accept mistakes and promotes resourcefulness. As The Guardian explains, “People with learning disabilities do have creative abilities; with the provision of tools, support, and creative space, these can be realised.” Use resources to help your child participate. Consider creating a designated “hobby room” where a child can freely work on their hobby, messes and all. Your child will be encouraged by your vote of confidence!
Visual arts. Many children with learning disabilities have strong visualization skills. Participating in activities such as painting, drawing, or sculpting can greatly empower them while allowing them an outlet for self-expression. When working with your special needs child, Extension recommends finding appropriate ways to assist in making projects. For instance, you can adapt materials to meet a child’s ability. You can cut shapes for children who aren’t able to maneuver scissors well, or purchase specially designed scissors that your child can use. Store materials in a manner your child can access them, and opt for activities that aren’t beyond your child’s skill set. Be sure to praise your child. There is always something you can applaud in the effort, whether it’s the choice of colors or the length of time your child spent working on a project. Display your child’s creations at home and ask your youngster to give artwork titles, and to describe the work and what it means. You can even make a small art gallery. Your youngster will be proud of the accomplishment!
Music. Engaging learning disabled children in musical activities can build their ability to manage structure and concepts. Dancing and singing encourages voice control and motor skill development, and repeating phrases in songs can teach children to anticipate rhythms, phrases and ideas. You can play quiet, soothing music at home and sing playful songs with repetitive choruses and words. Try some traditional favorites like “The Hokey Pokey” or “I’m a Little Teapot.” You can even invent instruments with your child, such as with spoons and pans, or plastic containers with rice inside. Some children enjoy developing their own special dances. Encourage your child to choreograph her own concepts to see creativity bloom!
Theater. Children with learning disabilities can enjoy big benefits from acting, growing in academic and social-emotional ways. Reading and learning scripts can promote reading skills, enhance children’s comprehension of tone of voice, and improve vocabulary. Scripts open lines of communication with the opportunity to discuss meaning, character development, and the ability to critique. Kids can develop self-expression and enjoy more self-confidence as their acting skills strengthen. Joining an acting group promotes a special needs child’s ability to function on a team, enhancing social skills and the ability to collaborate, all of which works to help your child feel empowered and more self-assured. If your child has language limitations, using symbolic gestures is a great way to allow your aspiring actor to participate. You can make costumes and props to enhance your child’s experience, adding to the creativity and the fun!
The arts are the answer! If you’re wondering how to help your special needs child gain self-esteem and develop skills, engaging in the arts can be a boon. Use appropriate tools to make the chosen avenue of creative expression available to your youngster. The arts can help children with learning disabilities blossom!