The room was anything but quiet as a group of 22 children, ran rambunctiously through the gymnasium at the Hardy Recreation Center located in Northwest Washington, D.C.
The 2- to 6-year-olds, were not just running for the sake of running but were exploring their artistic talents at ArtInterActive, a program being designed for young children. On March 3rd, ArtInterActive enlisted help from Mann Elementary School and the Hardy Recreation Center to hold its seventh trial run in preparation for the certification process to get it adopted by afterschool programs. ArtInterActive is waiting on specific accreditation from the Council on Accreditation (COA).
“I wish I would have had someone show me what I could be good at when I was younger,” said Jamie Keltson, 34, an ArtInterActive’s facilitator. “It’s more than just teaching them to read and write, which is important, but what about the arts? And not just finger painting and music therapy.” Who certifies the program??
Kelton, along with a team of seven, have been working on ArtInterActive since 2008. Much like Sylvan, a widely used learning program, ArtInterActive must follow specific steps and lessons in order to be an accepted program. Instead of teaching children basic math and reading skills, Kelton’s program has found a way to teach music, dance, art and theater without overwhelming the children with rules.
“What’s most important is to make the children feel like they’re just having a good time and not learning.,” said Cathy Huang, director of communications for ArtInterActive. “As soon as they feel like they are being lectured to, they shut down. That’s what we don’t do, she said.
Using video as an important part of the learning experience, ArtInterActive lets the children learn what they feel compelled to know more about. At the beginning of each class, children watch a short 20-minute video in which students are introduced to the art, along with a demonstration.
“It’s different. Its not just information on the screen. Think the arts meets Blue’s Clues meets Dora the Explorer,” said Corinne Justins, a volunteer at Hardy. “Its engaging and interactive and afterwards children somewhat copy what they’ve seen…depending on what interested them.
As the trial began, the children gathered around the screen and practiced music notes accompanied by a sing-a-long. ArtInterActive found a way to teach children music, along with other arts, in a memorable, fun way.
The children seem to respond. After an introduction video, children practice on toy instruments designed to be used with the videos. After the introduction, the children, imitated what they saw and seemed to play the instruments as they were instructed.
” This is the seventh lesson Emily has learned and she comes home anxious to get to her toy piano’ said Emily’s mother says Christina Aston. “But instead of just hitting the keys randomly, she remembers the sing-a-longs and applies the rules she learned when she plays…without noticing,” Aston said of her 5-year-old.
With three more trial sessions to go, Kelton said he plans to take the lessons learned from the children at Hardy Recreation Center to fine-tune ArtInterActive.