How to Help Kids Appreciate Art

While painting, drawing and making clay objects can be fun for kids, if they're not connecting to the artwork they are creating on a deeper level, you're not likely to keep their interest in it as they get older -- especially art that is not their own. Art plays an important part in childhood development, encouraging visual-spatial skills, problem-solving, self-expression and creativity, according to art educator and author MaryAnn F. Kohl. Start teaching your children to enjoy and appreciate visual art from an early age by incorporating it into their routine, such as planning daily art time and regular art outings.

Make art a priority in your home. Whenever you can, break out any art supplies you may have, such as construction paper, crayons, child-safe paints, paint brushes, glue, tissue paper, markers and craft dough, and work on projects with the kids. Plan both guided art projects, as well as open-ended art time where they come up with whatever they want. Talk actively with your kids about the art materials they are using, emphasizing textures and colors. Ask them to tell you about what they have created and always praise their work. Supervise young children at all times and use non-toxic art products only, as little ones will put almost anything in their mouths.

Read kid-friendly, art-focused books. For kids ages 3 and older, "The Art Book for Children," from the Phaidon Press, presents children with 30 of the most prominent works of art, from paintings to photography, both historic and contemporary 4. The book includes questions that prompt children to look deeper at each piece of artwork, observing colors, details and investigating how it makes them feel 4. Another art-based children's book to check out is "When Pigasso Met Mootisse," by Nina Laden, a whimsical and heartwarming story loosely based on the friendship -- and rivalry -- of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, two of the most famous and influential painters of the 20th century 45.

Turn art museum visits into an adventure. Don't just go to the art museum and point out cool paintings. Instead, create a museum scavenger hunt with a level of difficulty based on the age of your kids. You can put together a picture list for young children and have them search for the matching objects in the museum. For older kids, you can provide descriptive clues that focus on what the art object looks like, the artist and the location within the museum. Include questions for older kids about shapes, patterns and colors they see.

Plan regular art-based outings. Many local community centers, art studios and art museums offer family-friendly art-based activities. Visit a ceramic pottery studio where your kids can pick a ceramic object to paint. Check the schedule of your nearest art museum to see if they offer weekly or monthly family art classes. Take your kids to art-based festivals where local artists are displaying their work and ask for their input in picking a painting to take home.


Take a keen interest in the artwork your kids bring home from school. Ask them about what they painted and why they chose certain colors -- and proudly display them on the refrigerator, showing the kids that you appreciate their work.