Why should I send my child(ren) to an art-based camp this summer?

By Jeanette Blanca Egozi….
SUMMER TIME IS HERE! — an excellent opportunity for children to relax, be creative, nurture friendships and take part in unique experiences. Options for Summer camps are endless and, as parents, we may feel overwhelmed or uncertain about which alternative is best for our children. 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. Do something different this Summer and give your kids the chance to exercise their bodies, stimulate their minds, explore their creativity AND nurture their spirit.

By enrolling your child in a (w)holistically focused arts-based Summer camp, they will have the opportunity to have the most complete social-emotional learning experience. What is a (w)holistically focused arts camp? It is a program that combines different forms of expression such as fine art, music, drama, creative movement, yoga, cooking and gardening, to name a few. The combination of various methods of artistic expression provides many benefits that go beyond the ability to produce artwork. Many of the skills children will acquire in an arts camp are formative. These skills will help them to develop intellectually, socially and physically, and some are even aligned with reading and writing curriculums.

The organization CASEL revealed through different research that children who participate in social-emotional learning programs “demonstrate significantly enhanced social-emotional skills, attitudes, and positive social behavior, reduced conduct problems and emotional distress and improved academic performance”. *

Arts-based camps offer a lot of benefits to children and families alike, many of which may not be immediately evident. Some significant benefits include:

Boost creativity & relieve stress:
Exposing children to different forms of expression and art mediums encourages joy and imagination. Through these creative opportunities, they learn to express themselves in a unique and positive way. At the same time, the programming keeps them engaged and focused, which helps them to become calm and more relaxed.

Raise self esteem & confidence:
Participating in arts-based programming makes children feel confident because they use their existing knowledge and all of their senses to create something they are passionate about. They can enjoy the freedom of creativity without the concern of potential failure, and they acquire a sense of personal satisfaction from finishing their projects. Although they may not be cognizant of it, they’re building the foundation of an important character trait that will last well into their adult lives and beyond.

Improve concentration & solve problems:
An arts-based camp encourages children to learn how to problem solve, concentrate and make choices. In this fast-paced world where children are easily distracted and over stimulated, largely by video games and television, these camps teach them how to concentrate, build fine motor and gross motor skills and promote self expression. Children seem to focus more effectively when given the freedom to work according to the artistic vision in their minds. Since children are also confronted with challenges, a variety of art classes offers the opportunity for them to develop valuable life skills in a non-confrontational and harmonious environment.

Prevent obesity & promote wellness:
Arts focused camps include activities that keep children active. Dance, yoga, creative movement and fitness are some of the classes that could be included in the programming. Additionally, through cooking classes children can learn how to choose nutritious foods, and prepare and eat healthy meals.

Promote team work:
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 who are provided with ongoing exposure to various forms of artistic expression develop marked improvements in social skills, build positive character attributes, and acquire life-long wellness—thus ensuring that they are growing into compassionate, caring and loving individuals!

*CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) is a not-for-profit organization that works to advance the science and evidence-based practice of social and emotional learning. It was founded in 1994 by Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence, educator/philanthropist Eileen Rockefeller Growald, and a group of distinguished researchers and practitioners. “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”.

Jeannette Blanca Egozi M.A., CCC-SLP, CMHP, CSMC is a Bilingual Speech Language Pathologist, Certified Mental Health Professional and Stress Management Consultant. She is the Founder and current President of Playing the Game of Lifesm (PGLsm), whose Mission is to develop social skills, build positive character attributes, an promote life-long wellness through arts based prevention programs. PGL’s Enrichment Center is in Miami Beach, Florida. 305-864-5237 www.PlayingTheGameOfLife.com.

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