July 26, 2012
•Hersam Acorn Newspapers• •
Arts Enrichment: Why and Where
By Melissa Ezarik
Arts education may not always fare sowell in school budgets, but study afterstudy has shown benefits for childrenwho are exposed to music, dance, dramaand art. From fine and gross motor skillsto problem solving, focus and imagina-tion, arts experiences tend to bring onmore than just a good time. A studyreleased this March from the NationalEndowment for the Arts even found aconnection between the arts and greateracademic success, higher career goals andmore civic engagement. While it focusedon at-risk youth from low socioeconomicbackgrounds, some of the findings —particularly in the area of civic-mindedbehaviors such as high levels of volun-teering, voting and engagement with poli-tics — applied to those from advantagedbackgrounds as well.“Sometimes we are amazed at howmuch the children develop in many dif-ferent aspects over their time with us,”says Hannah Perry, owner of The GigglingPig in Shelton, which offers art and craftsclasses and drop-in sessions for childrenof all ages (a pet teapcup piglet even visitswith kids and helps inspire art explora-tion). “Not just artistically, but also withconfidence and kindness towards other.” With older and younger childrenworking together in groups, Perry andher staff “encourage confidence and teachthe children to be complimentary of eachother’s work,” she says, adding that “it’simportant to expose our children to dif-ferent forms of art and show them thereis no wrong or right way to be creative.Everyone sees the world differently.”The creativity component, pointsout Jean Griffin Walter, who teachesart at Middle Gate Elementary Schoolin Newtown, is crucial to 21st Centuryteaching.“That’s going to be the standout in anyoccupation, the creativity,” says Walter,whose former career was as a graphicdesigner. For example, when somethinggoes wrong with a project, kids learn it’snot about starting over, but about work-ing with the mistake. “Art gives them thethinking skills they really need — theability to problem solve. Isn’t that whatlife is?” Yet, arts enrichment is mainly a matterof expressing yourself creatively in a wayeverybody, with any language, can under-stand, she says.“It makes us different from the ani-mals, that we can be creative.”The arts are also for any child, not justfor those with standout skills who wantto make a living at it. They don’t have tobe master artists whose work is museum-worthy. “It’s the fact that they do it, theywant to share it. That is the benefit to it,” Walter says.Inspired to nurture your child’s interestin visual arts, music, dance, or theater?Here’s where to go.
Connecticut Dance School
; 42Halley Court, Fairfield, 203-384-2492,ctdanceschool.com.
D’Valda & Sirico Dance Centre
;1580 Post Road, Fairfield, 203-255-9440,dsdanceandmusic.com.
Flash Point Dance Station
; 1981Post Road, Fairfield, 203-259-1600,flashpointdance.com.
Music Together of Fairfield County
;76 Walbin Ct., Fairfield, 203-256-1656,ctmusictogether.com.
(art studio); 1252 PostRoad East, Westport, 203-349-5508,splatterboxart.com.
Westport Dance Center,
15 KetchumStreet, Westport, 203-293-4355, west-portdancecenter.com.
Darien Arts Center
, 2 RenshawRoad, Darien, 203-655-8683, artsdarien.org.
Giuliano’s Music Center
, 351 PostRoad, Darien, 203-656-2155, gmusiccen-ter.com.
Mary Ann Hall’s Music forChildren
, 49 Old Kings HighwayNorth, Darien (with classes in Darien,Greenwich, Norwalk, Southport), 203-854-9797, musicforchildren.net.
Talent Education Suzuki School
,112 Main Street, Norwalk, 203-956-5708musicattess.com.
Best Time Ever
(art studio), 633Hope Street, Stamford, 203-614-8511,thebesttimeever.com.
Curtain Call Performing Arts Workshops
, 1349 Newfield Ave.,Stamford, 203-329-8207, curtaincallinc.com.
Giuliano’s Music Center
, 123 HighRidge Road, Stamford, 203-359-2559,gmusiccenter.com.
Greenwich Suzuki Academy
, 15East Putnam Avenue #176, Greenwich,203-561-6176, greenwichsuzukiacademy.org.
Just Wee Two
(Greenwich, Stamfordand Westchester County locations), 800-404-2204, justweettwo.com.
Lakeside Pottery, Ceramic School& Studio
, 543 Newfield Avenue,Stamford, 203-323-2222, lakesidepottery.com.
Pender Keady Academy
(Irishdance), 76 Viaduct Road, #3, Stamford,203-316-8337, pender-keady.com.
Pictured are students of the Pender Keady Academy of Irish Dance in Stamford.
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