Saturday, March 1, 2008

art at home...

I am stirred to share some helpful information about how to teach Art to your children at home. It is sometimes areas like Art where parents have a difficult time deciding what to do and what to focus on when they have had no formal training in art. Not that formal training in Art is a prerequisite for teaching Art, but in my experience, most adults are SCARED to death to teach art. Even getting a substitute at my school is hard because of people's insecurity about art.
As an Art teacher in the private and public schools for 15 years, I have had the chance to work with the rich, the poor, the gifted, and the *@#~`"! students. I am constantly growing on new things I can share with the students and processes I can teach them. Personally, I am still enjoying learning new ways to create art that is skill based, and extremely fun to do. You too can enjoy, along with your student, the pleasure of creating art at home.

To start with, I break the school year down into six week sections. Thirty-six weeks total, six weeks on a particular focus. Here's the order: Cutting and Gluing, Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking, and Weaving/Sewing. Each year I incorporate Graphic Design and Technology into the six different sections along with the skills they are learning. Usually one week is long enough for a student to work on an art project, given that it is about 45 minutes per day. That gives you six different projects you can do with your children and not feel guilty that they are missing out on a well-rounded, art inclusive educational experience.

The first tip for teaching your children art at home is to teach them what you enjoy doing yourself. Do you like stamping? do you enjoy gardening, cooking, writing? Whatever you enjoy doing will be easier for you to teach your children. For example, if you like gardening, while you are in the garden pulling weeds, planting, etc., have your student study the different shaped leaves on the plants. When you are ready to work on art, have them cut the shapes of the leaves out of construction paper and glue them down on a pleasing background color. Obviously you are teaching them the skills of cutting and gluing so your is focus is on using the scissors correctly (and safely), and using the proper amount of glue. The same project (leaves from the garden) could become the theme that runs through the whole change of mediums. For example, the student then draws the different leaves they observe in the garden, they paint a picture of a plant from the garden, they make a paper mache' of a vegetable, they stencil a print from a cut potato, and they cut out a shape of a fruit and sew an applica' on a square for sewing. It is endless what you can come up with when you focus on the things you personally enjoy doing. You are motivated, and they pick up on your motivation.

The second tip for art instruction at home is to let children create art even if you do not do it or want to teach it. Providing students with raw materials, even without a planned art experience, will give them a wonderful appreciation for creating and tons of enjoyment in making art. Children are naturally creative. Given time and resources, you will be amazed at what they will create.

Third tip....Don't worry that you are not a professional artist. Who cares if it is great or not? They don' why should you? Most parents I talk with have an idea about what they want their children to do, and when it doesn't look the right way, the parent takes the project over and "touches" it up. Don't touch it up, leave it as is and then use that as a way to teach your student about how they could improve on their skill the next time you make the same thing.
Fourth and last tip for this post. Do the same projects over and over. When you find a good project that is fun to do, and costs almost NOTHING, have them do it several times. Each time the child does the project they get better and better at the skills required.
I hope this post has dispelled some of your myths about teaching Art to your children. And I hope that it has inspired you to start creating art at home with a new attitude.
For those that are interested, I have posted this on as well.

From the art room,

PS. Some children take more time, some less when making art. In addition, there are those students who finish things that are to take four days in 10 minutes. If this happens, require them to go back and add to their project so they can learn the art and the power of focus.

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