A heart for the arts in the 501

by Katelin Whiddon

As parents, we try to find enjoyable and educational activities for our children. Often they are sports activities, but there are so many ways children can be involved in the arts as well. From painting and drawing to singing and dancing, the 501 has so many types of programs for children (and adults).

The arts can be more beneficial to children than one might think. Obviously, there are social and creativity benefits, but the arts can also teach children life skills such as confidence and perseverance. I cannot think of any art form that one simply excels at the first time they try. Practicing and continuing to improve helps our children to learn the value of persevering in things that may seem hard at times. Once children see their improvement and the skills they have learned, their confidence seems to blossom and can be seen in other areas of their lives as well.

Some of the arts can be done on an individual basis, but many involve working with others. Learning to work with other students and teachers can help children learn problem-solving skills, teamwork and how to deal with different personalities. Working as a team also teaches children how important it is to be loyal to the team and to fulfill commitments. Everyone must be accountable in order for the team to work best. Often children learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses and help each other to grow. And as we have learned as adults, in helping others, we generally help ourselves even more.

While we would all like for our children to have an opportunity to try every sport and art, and still excel in school and all aspects of life, that is not realistic. There are seasons of life where we simply cannot make room or find the resources for everything.

There are so many ways you can encourage art at home:

Try to keep some basic craft supplies at home – paper, crayons, pencils, etc. to allow your child to draw and create when they want.

Find a way to show off their work to build their confidence in what they’ve created and to show them their work is valued. We can even add our own art to the collection as well.

Have your children help write a short play to perform for family or friends. This can be a simple skit or something more complex – perhaps depending on the age and involvement of your children.

And what young child doesn’t love having a dance party at home? Turn up some music, push back the furniture and create your own dance studio at home for the kids (and of course parents should join in also).

There are so many resources right here in the 501 and many allow you to try a program before you commit to pay for classes. Talk to your children about what they are interested in and let them try some classes. You never know how lifelong their love may be and where it may take them in life.


A Conway native, Katelin Whiddon is a nurse practitioner at the Conway wound clinic for Arkansas Heart Hospital. She and her husband, Daniel, have two daughters. A University of Central Arkansas graduate, she has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and works in pediatrics.