Parents in Action: Fine arts camps and programs

At a time when fine arts funding is cut more and more each year, some parents are on the search for fine arts programs that can help kids express themselves and learn about new things. There's no better time to explore options than during the summer where camps can expose kids to numerous types of fine arts medium, like pottery, photography, sketch art and so much more.

While some researchers, like Ellen Winner and Lois Hetland, have challenged the benefits of arts education as they relate to other subjects, some studies like that commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum in 2006 have championed the increase in funding as a way to increase creativity, literary and social skills.

Beyond Testing
Many people like to focus the benefit of fine arts on its relation to measurable test data. But at their core, fine arts programs and camps help students to expand their relationship to the rest of the world through hands on activities and projects. Something definitely not tested for on the FCAT.

"While students in art classes learn techniques specific to art, such as how to draw, how to mix paint, or how to center a pot, they're also taught a remarkable array of mental habits not emphasized elsewhere in school", say Ellen Winner and Lois Hetland. Some of these skills include self-criticism, the willingness to learn from mistake and visual-spatial abilities. All of which are critical to many careers, "but widely ignored by today's standardized tests." 4

Nurturing Self Worth and Confidence
Fine arts programs and summer camps also go a long way in helping our children in social settings. According to American for the Arts, kids who engage in these types of classes are exposed to skills like teamwork and understanding of different points of view. Additionally, they develop an understanding and appreciation for different cultures, "which translates to an increased sense of tolerance and social acceptance", says

Additionally, as children work on art projects over the summer they'll start to develop a sense of confidence in their work that can eventually lead to a greater social participation at school. This kind of arts participation can also increase the likelihood for your child to be elected to class office, four times more likely to be in a math or science fair and four times more likely to win an award for writing, according to

Academically Speaking
Participation in art classes will potentially help students thrive in academic subjects like reading and math. Programs like these can be particularly beneficial to preschool age children who are still developing cognitive, motor and language skills, says Americans for the Arts. Similarly, older students who are exposed and participate in arts programming show greater proficiency in language and math, achieving overall higher scores on the verbal and math portions of the S.A.T.

For a full range of data and the impact of art education on school-age children, visit

Whether or not you think your child is the next Pablo Picasso or Salvador Dali, immersing your kids into art this summer is a surefire way to expand their understanding of people, increase their social awareness and improve on academic skills for the upcoming school year.

2 Book Tackles Old Debate: Role of Art in Schools
3 Guggenheim Museum Press Release
4 Arts for our sake

Painting with a Twist
Locations in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties 813-839-2409
Participants age 7-14 will learn about various visual artists and cultures and paint their own daily masterpiece inspired by the artist/culture of the day.  Program developed by certified elementary art instructor. Paint, brushes, canvas and lunch provided. Local artist will give step-by-step instruction. Cost is $40 per day per child or $175 per week per child.

iD Tech and iD Teen at the University of South Florida 888-709-8324
Build apps, video games, programs in C++/Java and more during weeklong (day and overnight) programs for ages 7-17 at the University of South Florida.  Space is limited.

Dunedin Fine Art Center
1143 Michigan Blvd. 727-298-3322
These art camps offer fun, creative, cognitive experiences for ages 4½ to 14. Activities include drawing, painting, drama and dance. Attend the open house from 6-8 p.m. April 27 to learn more.

The Enchanted Kingdom of the Arts at Carrollwood Cultural Center
 4537 Lowell Road, Tampa 813-269-1310
Once upon a time in a far off kingdom princes and princesses ruled. Their kingdom was no ordinary kingdom for it was enchanted with beautiful artwork, music, dancing and voices joined together in perfect harmony. The princes and princesses decided to call their land The Enchanted Kingdom of the Arts.


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