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Lauren Runion of Yellow Bobby Pins Art Camp discusses the importance of parents and children engaging in art together. Nathan Gray/Staff

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School has started, the eclipse has passed and Labor Day will soon be a long weekend memory. As a parent you might have registered your young child for daycare, or you may have an amazing home school curriculum set out for their developing young minds — but what do you do on those days where you want to get messy and creative without a disaster in your house?

Kelly McSharry of Creating Artists for Tomorrow in Greer and Lauren Runion of YellowBobbyPins Art Camp in Greenville both suggest you get out with your tot to visit special art programs. CAT offers Table Time, art exploration for preschoolers ages 1 and older, and YellowBobbyPins Art Camp features Mommy and Me Art Time, art sessions for preschoolers and their parents.

“Art is one of the first languages of the child,” Runion said. “Creating art allows them to express themselves in a manner that matters to them.”

McSharry agreed.

“Table Time allows children to solve problems independently, be self-confident and work on developmental skills,” she said.

An open-ended art class allows young children to work with a variety of textures, colors and tools that encourage them to explore and connect to the value of creativity. Both McSharry and Runion emphasize that parents should step back from the worry of a perfect piece and allow children to experience the process of creating, even if the final product doesn’t come out exactly the same as the example.

“Children are trying to do what they want, not something prescribed, and while it is hard to let go, the results speak for themselves,” McSharry said.

Both women agree that exposure to art at young ages gives children a leg up when it comes to entering the formal public education system.

“Children who paint, draw, cut and sculpt at home are less afraid to make mistakes in the school setting because they have been making mistakes at home and have found out it wasn’t such a big deal,” Runion said.

McSharry points out that children who consistently come to Table Time always finish the summer better able to express their thoughts to nearby adults, have a strong grasp of colors and shapes and the ability to solve problems creatively. Runion said she believes an art education as young child can help them beyond high school as “more and more companies are hiring for creativity.”

While schools definitely incorporate art into the curriculum, Runion and McSharry encourage nonformalized art time because they believe little ones can work without the restrictive limit of time or supplies they might encounter at school. Runion compares an extra art class to having your child join a sports team.

“Art lessons and art play outside of the school setting allow the child more control in their own explorations,” Runion said, adding it also provides more practice for those developing fine and gross motor skills.

As an added bonus, Table Time and Art Camp are wonderful places to connect with other parents of Littles. At both art centers, parents can watch their child thrive without the fear of having to clean the carpets.

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