The Darien Arts Center, together with the Royle School PTO, hosted a panel discussion March 12 highlighting the benefits of the arts in a child's development.

The DAC's visual arts director, Beth Cherico, organized the panel with the PTO Chairmen Shannon Silsby and Shelly Skoglund, with the cooperation of Principal Keith Margolus.

Topics included art education and how the arts and creative activities can enhance every child's life.

Besides Cherico, other panel members were Claire Moore, head of children's services at the Darien Library; Martha Rhein, representative from Thriving Youth Asset Team; Jill Morton, art teacher at Royle School; and Justin Davis, artist and illustrator.

Some of the benefits of creative activities that the group touched on included having higher self-esteem, doing better academically, gaining increased creativity, intrinsic motivation and long-term retention, and getting along better with others.

Involvement in the arts can be a key way to help children succeed and can present a great alternative to those not participating in sports. The arts can be particularly enriching for students with special needs.

A question-and-answer period followed in which attendees, mostly parents of Royle students, were able to discuss their concerns and find out about opportunities for bringing additional experiences into their children's lives.

Suggestions included visiting museums; enrolling in art, dance, music and theater classes; writing; cooking; decorating; and appreciating art in everyday life.