I've recently taken on two more "students" for art lessons...my friend, April's 2 older children, Samuel and Ava. Eli, my regular student, wasn't able to make it this week. But it worked out alright, because I could get used to working with more than one child, which I was nervous about. It turns out that if I plan well, everything works out fine.
The kids did great for the first half of the lesson. They were very quiet and super-focused on their drawing. I think I planned too much though, since they started to get a bit antsy during the second half, when we were doing a "sight drawing" project. The other part of it is probably that sight drawing is hard...even for seasoned artists. And I'd given them some challenging pictures to work from.
Samuel's was probably okay, since it was already a cartoony line drawing (a freebie postcard I'd received from Happycloud Thunderhead). But Ava had chosen a photograph (one of my photos of vintage spools I bought from Etsy), which was more difficult for her than I'd realized. But she did a great job and stuck with it. They both did. I just think that next time I either need to end class earlier or give them simpler Sight Drawing subjects, like cartoons or line drawings.
I often forget about how kids attention spans are. I forget that the wonderful experience of making art doesn't always capture their attention for as long as it does for me! Teaching kids is a challenge for me, since I have to scale back and try to remember how kids are. I have to walk that fine line between not patronizing them or making things too easy...and doing something too advanced and expecting too much of them. I want to challenge them, but not completely frustrate them. Well, frustration is part of the process, I suppose. But my #1 Art Class Rule is "No saying 'I can't'!" (or "it's too hard!"). I encourage them to replace "I can't!" with "Can you help me?"
I realized that with more kids and not being able to devote myself to a lot of one-on-one attention, I have to make class more structured instead of kind of go-with-the-flow like I have been doing with Eli. I have to actually have a structured lesson plan.
My Lesson Plan for this week:
- Drawing Exercise (a worksheet I made from scans of a page in "Drawing With Children", with a series of very simple abstract drawings that the kids need to copy)
- "Doggie Drawing" Lesson (a worksheet I made myself from scans of the "Illustration School: Let's Draw Cute Animals!" book I recently bought)
- Sight Drawing (I give the kids a picture and they try to copy it)
- Free Draw! (The kids draw whatever they want. It's their reward for being good during class.)
This week I even wrote class rules on my small whiteboard and went over them with the kids before class.
My Art Class Rules:
- No saying "I can't!" (My #1 art class pet peeve. I want to teach them to try. And just because something takes a long time, it doesn't mean they "can't" do it or it's "too hard".)
- Follow Instructions (as opposed to deciding to deviate from the instructions and do whatever they want)
- Take Your Time (Now that there's more kids, I want to discourage the idea of racing each other to see who can be done first)
- Work Quietly (kids can be chatterboxes!)
- FOCUS! (When in art class, it's time to focus on art, not think about "Oh look! A bird!" or "I got a new Star Wars Lego set!")
We'll see how next week goes with all 3 kids...well...maybe 4 kids... since another one of my friends asked if her son can get in on this kids' art class action. But I think 4 will be my limit for now (who are all either 6 or 7 years old). I can only fit 4 kids at my dining room table anyway!