Why should I send my child to an arts-based camp this summer?
Published: Tuesday, June 07, 2011By: Jeannette Blanca Egozi M.A., CCC-SLP, CMHP, CSMC, is a bilingual speech language pathologist, certified mental health professional and stress management consultant.
Summer should be a time for children to relax, be creative, nurture friendships and take part in special experiences. Options for summer camps seem endless and, as parents, we may feel overwhelmed or uncertain about which alternative is best. Usually, the simplest solution is signing them up in a sports camp, where children can work on their athletic skills, explore different sports or learn how to swim. Think about doing something different this summer, letting your children exercise their bodies, stimulate their minds, explore their creativity and nurture their spirit.
Children in a holistically focused arts-based summer camp have the opportunity for the most complete social-emotional learning experience. This is a program that combines such different forms of expression as fine art, music, drama, creative movement, yoga, cooking and gardening. That combination provides benefits that go beyond the ability to produce artwork. These skills help children develop intellectually, socially and physically, and some are aligned with reading and writing curriculums.
The organization CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning) revealed through different research that children who participate in social-emotional learning programs “demonstrate significantly enhanced socialemotional skills, attitudes, and positive social behavior, reduced conduct problems and emotional distress and improved academic performance.” *
Arts-based camp can:
- Boost creativity and relieve stress: Exposing children to different forms of expression and art mediums encourages joy and imagination. Children learn to express themselves in a positive way. The programming also keeps them engaged and focused, helping them to be calm and more relaxed.
- Raise self-esteem and confidence: Children use their existing knowledge and all their senses to create something they are passionate about. They enjoy the freedom of creativity without the concern of potential failure, and acquire a sense of personal satisfaction from finishing projects. They’re building the foundation of an important character trait that will last all their lives.
- Improve concentration and solve problems: An arts-based camp encourages children to learn how to solve problems, concentrate and choose. In this fast-paced world where children are easily distracted and overstimulated, often by video games and television, these camps teach them how to concentrate, build fine motor and gross motor skills and promote self-expression. Children focus more effectively when given the freedom to work according to the artistic vision in their minds. The classes offer the opportunity for them to develop valuable life skills in a non-confrontational and harmonious environment.
- Prevent obesity and promote wellness: Arts-focused camps include activities to keep children active. Dance, yoga, creative movement and fitness can be included in programming. Through cooking classes children can learn how to choose nutritious foods and prepare and eat healthy meals.
- Promote teamwork: Programs based in the arts encourage social interaction, teamwork and verbal communication. Children have fun working together on different projects as they learn to collaborate and share ideas. When given the opportunity, children can develop an intense curiosity and appreciation of the arts. Studies** have shown that children provided with ongoing exposure to various forms of artistic expression improve in social skills, build positive character attributes, and acquire life-long wellness (thus ensuring they are growing into compassionate, caring and loving individuals).
* “Positive impact of social and emotional learning for kindergarten to eighth-grade students: Findings from three scientific reviews,” CASEL Technical Report.
** Source: HTTP:// ww.americansforthearts.org – Arts Education Publications. “Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development.”
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