Italy has long understood that kids could be engaged with culture – truly engaged. And once you engaged children thoroughly, they might well respect their heritage, work in cultural projects, promote their unique traditions – which I think is the very foundation of all that we love about Bell’ Italia. When you meet the artisans, culinary experts, grandmas, or young aspiring musicians (I’m thinking Il Volo), you can’t help but think that something of the lofty open-air operas, the wildly popular festivals for a pantheon of saints, the long-standing monuments, the medieval reenactments..somehow stoked the creativity, ingenuity and impulse of an entire nation.
And while it took about 400 years for institutions to catch up to the idea of fully engaged children in learning – we once had a Minister of Cultural Heritage who believed children shouldn’t be allowed in museums at all – Young visitors to Italy can (finally!) find loads of things to do other than hold the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the palm of one’s hand or feed the pigeons in Venice’s Saint Mark’s Square.
And then came Arte al Sole – whose founder wanted something more for her kids in Italy – and children the world over. But it wasn’t enough to simply offer set guided tours or art projects or fill free time. Shannon Kenny wanted kids deeply connecting to each other, to Italy, to history and to answer the question, What does this mean to me? Thereby forging a more aware, more curious, more engaged global citizenry. But what underlies our unique approach? Inquiry-based Learning.
Each year, our pedagogic specialists, art historians and talented art docents go through great
lengths to create programs and art exploration tours that prove to widen kids’ (and their parents’) knowledge and appreciation of their world. What we don’t do? Give private family tours based on a script – we might focus on just a few select works in the entire Uffizi Gallery; works that your child finds wholly fascinating. And then we add a creative project that seals their knowledge by putting it to paper.
Arte al Sole summer camps engage kids thru this inquiry-based process, from seeing how honey is made, to Leonardo’s inventions, to experiencing what jobs people had in Medieval times.
We follow a curriculum, but the camper leads the way. This spring & summer, more artistic kids can enjoy special instruction while those wanting to uplevel their soccer game (or try it out new) will be taught by a certified soccer coach, followed by cultural outings with the rest of the group.
I often discourage parents from dragging their kids through museums just to check it off their bucket list. I toured Italy at 6 – and from emotional discoveries made in Paestum, a light show in the Forum, and even thousands of miles in a cramped FIAT 500, I eventually moved here to live as an adult. By catalyzing creativity and innovation through inquiry…where could a family trip to Italy end up for you and your children?
*special thanks to educator and illustrator, Sylvia Duckworth for this terrific graphic We are holding special Arte al Sole sessions in Rome this spring break (March/April) and in Rome, Lucca, Florence, Umbria & Sicily this June and July.
Click here for our entire summer camp offering.
Got older kids? Try our in the Dolomites 29 July to 5 August 2018!