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From the Creator of Choose Art

Although we like to emphasize the fact that children love art, is art always fun? What about the days when the class is less than exciting, or a student experiences frustration, or perhaps someone is reluctant to get involved? Although such occasions may be infrequent, they can be challenging when they do arrive. Be careful, however, not to fall into the trap of thinking there is something wrong if the children are not always having fun.

If you feel intimidated when the class isn't "fun," perhaps you are reacting to the mistaken perception that art should provide a break from the pressure and tedium of academic subjects. If it hasn't been a "hands-on version of recess," you feel it has failed. While it may well provide such relief, that is far from its purpose. If art is to be taken seriously, it should be treated with the sincerity of any other subject where a challenging assignment may provoke a variety of emotions among the students. Working a problem through to its solution carries its own rewards, but the process can be as painful in art as in any other subject. Expect no less than you would in a mathematics class, and your students will give their art assignments their best effort.

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Question & Answer

Question? - My daughter is being home-schooled and is enrolled in private art lessons. Do such lessons provide for her needs in art?

Answer! - Of course there is no way of knowing exactly what your daughter is being taught in her private lessons, but such lessons usually attract either those who are talented or those with a high interest-level. The teacher, who is probably a local artist, will provide instruction in methods and media, such as watercolor or pastel, and help the students to develop their talents.

Most of the time is spent working on a piece of art. Although it's wonderful for a child to have such an opportunity, it's important to recognize that there is a difference between such lessons and an art education program. Possibly the simplest way of understanding this difference is to compare study in a comprehensive music program with piano lessons, or to compare participation in a well-rounded physical education program to playing on the local soccer team or taking swimming lessons.

The scope of an art education program is much broader and less specialized. It will introduce a wide variety of media, and provide for skill development, but it will also acquaint the children with a general perspective of art and artists in history, it will attempt to develop an aesthetic awareness, help the students to understand the qualities of a good composition, and provide opportunities for problem-solving. The children will become acquainted with art terms and vocabulary, and may even gain information on careers in art. In short, the goal of a good art education program is not so much to develop talent as it is to teach children to think, to create, and to appreciate the world in which they live.

How wonderful if your daughter could have the benefit of both private art lessons and art education.

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Bulletin Boards

Displaying children's work requires diplomacy, sensitivity, good judgement and a little basic knowledge. Everyone enjoys an attractive display of art work. And everyone loves to see their work on display - that is, unless they are embarrassed by it. How then do you know what and how to display, and when not to? What are the basics of a good display? Here are a few guidelines:

  • Display work at eye-level and plan an orderly layout
  • Always provide a caption for the display - the name of the lesson would be appropriate
  • For ease of reading, avoid vertical and diagonal lettering in your caption
  • Label each picture with the artist's name
  • Provide a cloth or paper background in a contrasting color to the work being displayed, or provide an individual background for each picture by mounting it on a piece of construction paper (a little larger than the picture)
  • Give everyone equal opportunity to have his or her work displayed; avoid exhibiting only the best work
  • Do not display everyone's work every time. Get to know the capabilities of each child, and avoid exhibiting work that does not represent a student's usual performance level. This way, you will avoid embarrassing a child who may have had difficulty and would not appreciate having a certain piece displayed

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Comments from Authors

"If those who complain that the school art program is a 'frill' would stop to think, they would realize that its aim is not to produce practicing artists so much as thinking people"

- Elizabeth Harrison,
"Perspective: How Necessary is Art?"

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Completing Assignments

Always complete an assignment before moving on to the next lesson. Remember, the time allotted in the teacher's manual for each assignment is only a guide. Your group may finish in less than the suggested time, or it may take longer. But do not frustrate the children by leaving work unfinished just because it's time to move on to the next lesson. Your children are your priority. Don't lose sight of that by enslaving yourself to keeping on schedule with the manual. If children are to take assignments seriously, they must be given adequate time to complete them.

Take an extra class if necessary. If time is an issue, assemble the children between scheduled art classes in order to stay on track. Or, provide for the children to work on the assignment individually during spare time.

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