By Lillian Brooks
If a child has been diagnosed with a learning disability, the natural inclination is to worry about how they’ll cope with school as you desire for them to have a fulfilling education. However, with the right tools, encouragement and support, you can help the child build self-confidence and learn new ways to respond to their obstacles. A learning disability is just another obstacle and there are always ways to overcome those obstacles. One way for a child to combat learning disabilities and tap into other strengths is by getting involved with the arts.
Drawing, Painting, and Crafts
Learning is not a one size fits all activity. Where traditional tests may fail to assess what a child has learned in regard to mathematics, drawing and painting can assess what a child knows about geometry, size, boundaries, space, and shapes. Art classes at local studios, community colleges, after school programs, and museums are often available for low costs and they’re sometimes free. Using crafts (three-dimensional, tangible projects) to teach new skills or assess problem-solving skills is a wonderful tool and fun at the same time. Drawing, painting and crafts do not require the end result to be a masterpiece; however, that may be the result. They enable the student artist to feel more competent in their abilities, which will expand beyond the art and into their daily lives.
Children with learning disabilities are cognitively aware of their environment, but have a limited ability to communicate and express themselves—potentially leading to them feeling misunderstood. Dance is a creative art that allows a person to utilize their whole body to communicate thoughts and emotions, enabling the child facing physical or mental obstacles to combat their limitations. It helps children learn to control their movement, discover motion, and learn about the human body.
Movement of the body also helps to teach that there are multiple ways to convey one message or solve a problem. Dance uses the space of a room and expands perceptual skills. It not only helps in physical movement, capabilities, and expression, but it’s an opportunity to experience an art that promotes whole body wellness and builds confidence.
Music is not only a wonderful learning tool but it also has the ability to change lives by affecting the mood. Whether you’re giving a child an instrument or singing lessons, you may see them flourish because they’re able to express themselves in a new way and it can provide them with a sense of inclusion. As a learning tool, music helps with memorization, timing and repetition, which results in active participation, motivation and stimulation.
For instance, a child who faces communication obstacles will be introduced to new non-verbal communication paths. Tap into local resources around your community to get the child actively involved, such as the local school music program, music schools, or nonprofit organizations that may specialize in helping children with special needs.
Before introducing a child with a learning disability or other special needs to an instrument, it’s wise to consider their fine or gross motor skills. You wouldn’t want to discourage them further by providing them with an instrument that challenges them to the point of discouragement. Knowing which instruments will help mold into your child’s strengths is essential. For instance, woodwinds are ideal for children with special needs because they will be able to recognize certain vibrations through their teeth.
Conduct some research on each instrument you’re considering and compare the requirements of the instrument with the child’s challenges (physical and mental). The right instrument in the hands of a child can lead to magical results.
Whichever art you or your child chooses, there will be endless and beneficial results. All art provides students with a way to express themselves, learn and improve. The key is to find the right kinds of art that will engage children and help them achieve certain results. Not all art is for every student, so a child facing challenges should be presented with different options, while still considering their needs and limitations. Art provides students with a safe place to express themselves and grow.
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