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A man playing a saxophone on stage. Painting of a hand cupped around a tiny infant. Vibrantly colored painting of geometric renderings of faces. A woman sculpting a bust out of clay. Close-up of a painting of a human eye in shades of black, red and orange. A woman performing in a play on stage. A young boy smiling at a hand puppet. An exuberant group of participants in the Actual Lives program. A young boy participating in the Arts Alive program. Painting with white and blue hair-like strokes on a background of deep turquoise. Man in a wheelchair viewing artwork in a gallery. Blind artist standing in front of his work. Group of women performing with colored scarves. Man speaking into a microphone with open captioning on a large screen behind him. Group of young students playing a musical game with the teacher.

Programs - Start with the Arts Training

VSA Texas offers "hands-on" training workshops that provide powerful tools for preschool, fine arts, and special education teachers - as well as parents and teaching artists - to engage and inspire Texas children through the arts, including those with disabilities and diverse learning styles. We also offer consulting for schools, districts, agencies, and community based organizations to incorporate inclusive, language-rich arts learning into existing activities, or to implement new arts-based programs.

The main focus of this project is two-day workshops in Start with the Arts, a multi-disciplinary arts resource in 54 lessons to assist with inclusive and integrated classroom teaching. Start with the Arts is fully aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) in all subject areas, preK-3rd grade, and teachers are provided a searchable CD ROM along with the SWTA resource when they attend a two-day workshop.

Suitable for all early childhood learners, Start with Arts combines fun activities in music, dance/movement, drama and visual arts with a diverse selection of developmentally appropriate music and storybooks. Because the arts honor what is unique about every individual, they are perfect for inclusive learning inside and outside the classroom.

Since 1992, tens of thousands of young children in 16 states have experienced Start with the Arts, and the easy-to-use arts-based teaching techniques that enhance self-esteem, concentration, cooperation, and reading readiness. In Texas, training has been conducted in Austin, Abilene, Beaumont, El Paso, Edinburg, Del Rio, Laredo, San Antonio, Midland/Odessa, San Angelo, Houston and Fort Worth. Find out what teachers have to say about Start with the Arts.

The Start with the Arts project is made possible through funding by the national office of VSA arts, under an award from the U.S. Department of Education. However, the content does not necessarily reflect the policy of the U.S. Department of Education and endorsement should not be assumed. Additional support comes from the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division and by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts. The Start with the Arts project was launched in part with federal funds available to the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities.

Start with the Arts is Online!

Start with the Arts, Start with the Arts at Home, and Empiece con las Artes en Cara are online as accessible PDFs. Please follow the below links to more readily navigate the Kennedy Center Website to the Resources for Educators and Parents section:

Educators and Parents resources section

Start with the Arts

Start with the Arts at Home & Empiece con las Artes en Casa


See caption for description.

A Start with the Arts Training participant completes a hands-on visual art activity.

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