Dundee Contemporary Arts: Why art is amazing for young children
- 11 August 2020
Dundee Contemporary Arts has made this year's shortlist for our Audience Impact Award. Here they tell us why art is so fantastic for young children's development.
Dundee Contemporary Arts is a family friendly arts centre in the heart of Dundee. We have two galleries, two cinemas, a print studio, café/bar and a create space where you can do DIY making activities based on our current exhibitions. We also run regular free drop-in Family Art Labs led by professional artist educators and low-price ticketed Bring A Baby film screenings. Every year we programme Discovery Film Festival, an international film festival for young audiences with lots of exciting activities for all. We were shortlisted for a Fantastic for Families Impact Award for our work with very young children in the project ‘Art at the Start’. This is a collaboration between DCA and the University of Dundee Psychology Department to promote and research the benefits of art making for parents together with 0-3 year old children.
Why make art with very young children?
Making art together is amazing for young children’s development. It helps them to feel connected to their grown-ups and to share new experiences together. It also lets them see how they can make a mark in the world which builds their sense of self and expands their range of sensory experiences which is great for their brain development. And it’s fun!
What we do
We have developed monthly ‘Messy Play‘ sessions for parents and their 0-3 year olds. In these sessions we visit the gallery for inspiration and then do sensory and art activities in response. You can expect to get stuck into some colourful paintings on a big plastic mat on the floor, and exploring the different sensations in a sensory tray of coloured rice or shaving foam, followed by a baby bath! These sessions are open to the public and you can find details on the DCA website.
What parents said was important to them:
“My baby painting for the first time!”
“…letting the baby experience really messy play”
“…free play that is child-led but the theme to tie everything together”
We are also running blocks of art therapy sessions where we offer extra support to parents and young children to improve wellbeing. These groups are run by an art therapist with a maximum 8 parents and little ones coming together with a focus on relaxed and playful interactions through art making. Sessions can have positive impacts for post-natal depression, anxiety or feeling isolated. Referrals come via Health Visitors, family nurses and local charities; If you think you would benefit from these groups you could let your health professional know.
What parents said:
“I always feel happier once I’ve been to this group”
“A safe space to play and bond. Gives ideas to try at home too”
How to get involved
We have been adapting to the venue closure by sending packs of art materials to families identified as needing extra support and we have also been putting up lots of art ideas to do at home with wee ones. You can find everything that's available on our ideas and recipes page. Lots of these art ideas need very few materials or use things from around the house.