Finding Art Activities For Boys When There Are Limited Options
BY SELENA MILLS
Photo © DelanahBanana/Twenty20
May 25, 2018
If you’re a parent like me, you’re keen on getting your son into arts programming, but you live in a city or town where there doesn't appear to be many options. Or maybe you live in a big city and you’re accustomed to seeing lots of options for girls in the arts, but not so much for boys. I wish I had an easy answer for you, but you know what’s coming. Indeed, Google is your friend. But so is talking to other parents in your community, or even the other parents at your son’s school!
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If only we all lived in the same small-ish city, or little town, then I could be of greater service to my fellow like-minded parents who desire enriching, artful extra-curricular experiences for their sons.
However, I may be able to help with some out-of-the-box ideas about where to look and what's available in smaller communities.
Boys who dance is indeed a thing! What may be more complicated is that (again, highly likely in smaller areas) your boy may be one of the very few boys — or in our case, the only boy — in his class, depending on what you pick. When delving into cultural dance options, see if the classes are diverse and authentically represented (that includes the teacher, too!). Hip hop dance classes for boys seems to be a standard taught at most dance schools, which can make for weeknight ease if you have more than one child taking dance classes (waving hiiiii!). And of course, there are the other standards: jazz, tap, ballet, etc.
Check your local community centre and community centres not necessarily run by your city for more options! For example, our local Indigenous cultural centre offers powwow dancing and has connected us to other youths who can teach group hoop dance classes to our son and a few others who are interested.
Musical theatre & drama
There should definitely be some options here for you no matter where you live. Musical theatre is great because it gets them moving and integrates dance, singing and acting, which, as we’ve witnessed with our boy, has been such a wonderful confidence builder. He also gets to dabble in a few areas to see what he really enjoys, and he’s currently digging all three so it’s perfect!
Another option, if your son is really into musical theatre, or you happen to be a parent who enjoys it yourself — you guessed it! — community theatre is a great option. I know I’ve been (gently) pushing my husband to sign up with the kids to our own local community group.
Research, research and research some more. I’ve made friends with this fact and it’s proved to be a mutually rewarding relationship. Had I not researched, made phone calls and read reviews, we never would have discovered a theatre camp run by a local organization for March break and summer! This camp is great because it brings together multiple age groups in a more relaxed environment, with lots of free-play and team-building games while also putting together a live performance at the end. There’s probably something like this in your area, too.
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Art classes & camps
Check out your local art museum, YMCA or community art group. Chances are high that they offer a variety of classes and camp options! This area has been a non-issue for us, the options have been plenty, from painting and drawing to silk-screening, animation, sculpture, diorama-making and group mural projects.
Art and nature camps are especially great for creative inclusion. Don’t be afraid to ask around about smaller, private-led camps and classes over the standard city camps. You’d be surprised at what you’ll find and what local artist or retired tennis pro in our case, is teaching an outdoor sports and nature art camp.
In the end, the experiences you offer to your kids need to be pocketbook friendly and by no means should it be about keeping up with the Joneses or jam-packing your schedules! My advice would be to pick and choose one or two things you son really seems to love and that aren't super demanding on your time, or your time as a family. Because the power and value of family dance-offs and painting at the kitchen table is truly where it’s at.