The Benefits of the Arts for Children with Learning Disabilities and How to Get Involved
By: Lillian Brooks
When a learning disability is making school a struggle for your child, it poses a great challenge for the both of you. Disabilities make subjects like English and math seem impossible, and it often leads to the child feeling defeated and wondering if they’ll ever be able to learn. However, if your child doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional student, it doesn’t mean they’ll always fall behind in class. While art is often implemented as a fun pastime, it’s also very beneficial to child development and can help children build lasting life skills. Here is how the arts benefit children with learning disabilities and how you can get them involved.
Learning a Musical Instrument
Music of all kinds is beneficial to children with a learning disability. Learning to play an instrument is effective for kids with special needs such as cognitive disabilities, ADHD, speech and language impairments, emotional disorders, and physical impairments. The tactile, kinesthetic, auditory, and visual systems are all engaged during the process of playing an instrument. Both sides of the brain are exercised, which produces several mental benefits, such as heightened cognitive development, sharper concentration, focused energy, and motor and problem-solving skills. Music also reduces stress and boosts self-image by giving children a creative outlet. Moreover, it has many great social aspects.
It’s important to choose the right instrument. Consider your child’s challenges and abilities, as well as their natural inclinations, and choose an instrument you think will hold their interest and provide the most benefits. For instance, if your child has a physical or orthopedic impairment, choosing a woodwind, like a clarinet, may be the way to go. Learning to play the clarinet can improve strength, dexterity, posture, and concentration. While you may not want to start them off with the most expensive instrument, it needs to be fully functional if you want them to stick to their practicing. Stop by a local music store to let your child explore their options.
Dancing is the best art form for children who are kinesthetic learners. The movements in dancing not only strengthen physical capabilities, but they are also a fun method for developing confidence and self-esteem while providing students with an avenue for expression and socializing. Depending on your geographical location, taking dance classes at a local studio could be your best option. If that’s not an option, you can find online lessons and practice in the comfort of your own home — though you lose some of the social aspects that way.
Drawing and Painting
Like music, drawing and painting also greatly benefit children with a learning disability by working both sides of the brain. They help right-brained children strengthen the creative abilities they already possess, while left-brained children get an exercise in the analytical areas like contrast, boundaries, and shapes. They improve memory, communication skills, and problem-solving skills, as well as reduce stress, uncover hidden emotions, and inspire positive emotions. Drawing and painting classes are typically offered in community colleges and craft stores, and there are several internet sites that offer free tutorials.
Creating something with your hands is satisfying for everyone. For children with a learning disability, doing crafts can help build their independence while teaching them important life skills. It can facilitate enthusiasm and the ability to overcome obstacles by offering them an unrestricted path of expressing themselves. Also, doing crafts is a productive way for your child to stay busy without the need to watch over them every minute of the day. There are plenty of craft ideas available on the internet that provide step-by-step directions, as well as guide you on what supplies you’ll need for each project.
Having a learning disability doesn’t mean your child can’t learn. The arts offer some of the best exercises for engaging your child and teaching a wide variety of concepts. Learning a musical instrument, dancing, drawing and painting, and crafts are all examples of art that will surprise you with their abundance of benefits. No parent wants to give up on their child’s education, and the arts provide a way forward.
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