Mirabel, grade two, shares her home learning space organized by her and her family.
This home learning space assists fourth-grader Eloise in being a more effective and efficient remote learner.
As educators were attempting to explore and discover the “new normal” for emergency virtual instruction, parents and guardians were at home trying to support learners. I can only imagine that if educators, who are trained in curriculum, instruction, assessment, and technology, were finding it challenging, imagine what parents were going through helping one, two, three, or more learners at home.
During the last nine weeks of school, I worked closely with my art supervisor and a team of art educators from Lincoln Public Schools to deliver remote instruction to elementary students. I read a lot. I looked to others for support and ideas. I questioned much.
I also noticed that many art educators were attempting to develop resources and support for adults at home. The following is a compilation of what I found during my research in terms of help, support, and understanding to better empower adults at home who are facilitating learning with their children.
Be Facilitators, Not Managers
Young children naturally create; it is part of their development. Through play and creative expression, children make discoveries about their world. To support this exploration, adults should be facilitators who support creative investigation. It might look like this:
- Provide open-ended, broad ideas and inspirations that allow for individual solutions.
- Avoid predetermined ideas of what the art product outcome should be.
- Allow for productive struggle as the child works through problems and mistakes (with your support and guidance).
Talk About It
A great way for adults to help facilitate creativity is to talk to students about both the process they’re experiencing while creating and the final product. By providing open-ended questions, children must think, reflect, and share their thoughts about process and product. Some questions that support critical thinking include:
- What inspired you to create this?
- What problems did you encounter while creating? How did you solve them?
- If you were to make this again, what would you change?
- What is your favorite part? Your least favorite part? Why?
- What title did you give it?
Provide Artistic Inspirations
By providing opportunities for children to see artistic inspirations around them, you are supporting creative development. Showing them ideas and also conversing with them about what they see are great ways to explore and discover artistic inspirations for their own art-making. Some suggestions for artistic inspirations include:
- Read books about art and artists. (The book series Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists is suggested.)
- Take virtual museum tours or view public art in your community.
- When looking at art, have children describe what they see and analyze what makes up the painting, such as color, line, and pattern. Ask them to interpret the artist’s message and evaluate how they feel about the work and why.
Provide Space to Create
Not all families can dedicate space where materials can be used whenever the child feels inspired. Issues to consider include:
- Does your child have a space (dining room table, floor, bed, outdoors) where creativity can happen?
- Is your child required to maintain, organize, and clean up the space?
- Can your child create without the worry of making a mess?
Anything Can Be Art
Because it’s not always possible to have varied art materials on hand, tell children that anything in or outside the home can be used to create. Suggestions include:
- drawing tool (pencil, pen, crayon, marker, or anything that makes a mark)
- paper/alternative surface (drawing paper, notebook paper, copy paper, wrapping paper, cardboard, packaging, sidewalk)
- objects: use the items in and outside of your home to arrange compositions and sculptures (examples include found objects, laundry, and kitchen utensils)
- camera or phone, if available: take photos of the work. (This is particularly important for documenting installment art and temporary work.)
When displaying your child’s art, location matters.
- Where in your home is a visible place to display homemade creations?
- Is the location valued by the child? By the entire family?
- Is the space free from potential damage by siblings or pets?
By sharing these guidelines of support, you can empower adults at home who are searching for ways to best facilitate the learning of their children.
Bob Reeker is a K–5 visual art specialist and elementary technology leader at Elliott Elementary School in Lincoln, Nebraska. BReeker@lps.org
Lowenfeld’s Stages of Artistic Development: d.umn.edu/artedu/lowenf.html
Mike Venezia: MikeVenezia.com
View this article in the digital edition.