April South-Olson is a mother, artist, and instructor at the Bonifas Arts Center. The many hats she wears gives her the unique ability to see the positive effects that art can have on children.
“I think it’s important to expose children to as much art as you can to help build strong connections and foster education,” April explained, “Creating uses the right side of your brain and builds on imagination to help children learn to solve problems in new or different ways.”
She’s not alone in her thinking: dozens of studies in the last couple of years, including one by the National Endowment of the Arts and another by the American Psychological Association, have shown that children who engage regularly in the arts have better motor skills, language development, decision making, visual learning, cultural awareness, and emotional development than those who do not. They also tend to have improved academic performance and score higher on tests.
It’s not all about scoring, though. Art allows kids to have fun and play freely, something that April will focus on in her upcoming summer classes. Participants will be exploring art concepts through classic projects that are playful and engaging. The projects are easy to grasp and age appropriate. Children not only learn new art mediums and elements but get to meet new friends in a relaxed atmosphere. There is no pressure to make something “perfect” but to learn from mistakes to create something wholly unique.
“The kids in my classes get excited about the different mediums the Bonifas offers. Often, they don’t have access to printmaking or paints at home,” said April about her classes, “I love teaching kids because they show me unexpected ways to approach tools. They don’t get hung up on judgments. They just make art!”
This summer, April’s classes will focus on exploring art concepts and materials that kids will love: On June 27 the class will center on still life painting using line drawings. Cardboard collage painting will teach kids how to stack shapes to make a three-dimensional work of art on July 11. July 18 finds students printmaking. On July 25 they will be pulling out the pastels and watercolor to paint a beautiful landscape out in the garden, and on August 1 they will use yarn as an unusual way to paint.
When asked what advice she would give to parents considering her classes, April encourages parents to sign their children up.
“Art is fun, especially for kids, but it can be really messy,” April said, “Taking classes at the Bonifas allows for all of the fun and socialization with none of the clean-up for you. What’s better than that?”
Classes run from 11 to 12 p.m. Price per session is $8 for members or $10 for non-members. Price for the entire 5-week session is $30 for members and $40 for non-members. This series is created for children ages 8 and up. Contact the Bonifas Arts Center online at bonifasarts.org or by calling (906)786-3833 to register for Kids Drawing and Painting.