[from the fall 2007 issue of OPEF’s newsletter, Take Note]
Inspiration, innovation, creativity. Bringing art into the classroom adds these magic ingredients to make every academic subject come alive. That’s why we run Art Start, partnering sculptors, musicians, painters, storytellers and dancers with classroom teachers to help our youngest students experiment in the arts. The artists teach. They engage students, promoting creativity and confidence. They collaborate with teachers to create hands-on projects that enhance and connect to the existing curriculum.
Art Start is fully funded by the Oak Park Education Foundation, which also brings you Architecture Adventure, VEX Robotics and Global Village. For the past 11 years, Art Start has been a successful part of the Kindergarten, first and second grades of District 97. During that time it has reached over 8,000 students. This newsletter showcases a few of the 27 Art Start projects that took place in Oak Park classrooms in the spring. This year, we’ll have artists in 30 classrooms.
Research shows that children who are involved in arts do better in school, no matter what their background. Art gives children a wider vocabulary. It introduces new perspectives and helps them develop problem-solving skills. Children are naturally creative, interested in new things and relatively uninhibited. Art Start nurtures these traits by introducing kids to professional artists who devote their careers to thinking in ways that are out of the ordinary. As one first grader said, “It’s good to try new things because you never know what you’ll like.”
Deb Abrahamson
Executive Director, Oak Park Education Foundation