Ways & How

How to Teach Art to Children

How to Teach Art to Children

It’s always fun to do stuff with kids because they’re uninhibited, experimental, curious, and boundlessly energetic. They’re not blocked by what other people think; their minds have not seen enough “art” to believe that it’s done only by the truly artistic. Therefore, it’s best to introduce them to art early. This way they don’t get set on prejudices early and will find enjoyment in it. The instructions below show how to teach art to children for a single or short series of lessons. You don’t have to make it too structured or complicated. Aim for the lessons to be fun, and children won’t get enough of it.

  1. Prepare your class area. This is important, because the place has a lot to do with the children’s capacity to focus on the lesson and their work. Too much distraction, and they can’t do anything; too little stimulation, and they might be bored. The room must allow ample space for moving around, accommodate their materials, have good ventilation, and be tolerant of spills, paint, glue, etc

  2. Display photos of art samples around the room.

    ude as many forms as possible, from photos of sculpture, architecture, painting, installation pieces, etc. If you plan to introduce only a single art technique for a few hours of class, show more samples of that type of work, e.g., manga (which is very attractive to kids), watercolors, finger-painting, etc.

  3. Prepare a variety of art materials for the children to use. Even if you’re not teaching a particular technique, you could include materials for it if the lessons will last several sessions. This will allow the children more room for experimentation in a technique they like and with which they are comfortable.

  4. When holding a class, introduce an art technique, show a few samples, demonstrate it for them, and turn the children loose. Some children will be very eager to get going. Others will stand back and observe; still others will be asking you every step of the way if they’re doing it right. You may have to mediate when a dispute occurs about use of materials.

  5. If it’s the kids’ first exposure to an art class, first teach them basic drawing, starting with lines, simple shapes, and then add shading to give shapes a dimensional feel. Help them see how things are actually shapes joined together. Give a simple example, and then have them make their own drawing. When they learn this, introduce perspective in a simple lesson. Be affirming, and encourage the children to express themselves, their thoughts and feelings, instead of copying the samples exactly or “coloring inside the lines.” Don’t forget to make them sign and date each piece when it’s done.

  6. Display your students’ work on the classroom walls. If you’re having a series of short lessons during a summer vacation school or something like that, hold an “exhibit” as part of your closing exercises. Frame one of each student’s works if you can. Compile the rest of their work in a binder to start them on their own “portfolio”.

Teaching art to children is very fulfilling and fun. It might try your patience at times, but you end up knowing you’ve given them an opening for their creativity. Art lessons that children learn never get lost, but stay with them for the rest of their lives. The instructions above should be enough to show how to teach art to children, if you are so inclined.


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