When I plan homeschool lessons, art class is typically the hardest class for me to schedule. I grew up in a very structured home and art was not a priority, so I often felt that it was just an elective that could be omitted if the school day became too hectic.
Now that I’m in college, I can see the vital importance of teaching kids the “art” of making art. Through art, kids (and adults) learn how to develop a variety of viewpoints and how to express themselves freely, without fear of criticism. Those are some very important skills that they’ll need in other subjects and in life.
Tips for Teaching Art When You’re Not Artistic
But what if you’re just not the artistic type? It’s still possible to teach art to your kids, as long as you’re willing to incorporate more flexibility into your teaching style.
Encourage everyday creativity.
One of the simplest ways to teach art to children is to look for artistic opportunities in your everyday life. You don’t have to wait until “Art Class” before you introduce artistic concepts to your kids. Instead, you can take advantage of ordinary experiences to talk about art as you learn.
For example, your kids may want to play outside. While they’re out there, encourage them to find something they think is pretty (a flower, a stick, a tree leaf, etc) and then bring it inside. Challenge the kids to represent the item artistically – using chalk pastels, crayons, markers, paints, etc. They may even want to build a model of the item with play dough!
Learn about the masters.
Another good way to teach art is by talking about famous artists in history. Grab some biographical books about master artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, Frida Kahlo, and read them with your kids. (Make sure they’re kid-friendly!)
When you talk about each artist’s life experiences, use that information to analyze the work they created at the time. Usually you can learn a lot about why the artist created a certain work when you learn about his or her life events in the same period. If you love history, you might enjoy teaching art more when you approach it from this angle.
Focus on the process, not the product.
Now if you’re a type A mom, this one might be the hardest step of all. But instead of focusing on how the product looks in the end, try to focus on the experience of creating the art itself. Personally, I had trouble with this because I wanted the finished product to look “pretty”. But that’s not the point of art and it shouldn’t be the point of teaching art to our kids.
We want them to feel free to express whatever image they see in their own minds without worrying about how it will look afterwards. So try to look the other way when your child slathers on layers and layers of paint. And resist the urge to “fix” their work. 🙂