Art classes can be invaluable for the development of a young child. They can teach new skills, encourage creative thinking, improve concentration and coordination and help to uncover and nurture your child’s creative gifts.
With so many different art classes to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow down the type of art that’s right for your child. Forcing them to do something they aren’t really interested in can lead to boredom and general disillusionment with artistic pursuits. However, finding the right one can be exciting, stimulating and inspiring for the child.
With all the different options available –including general art and craft classes, sketching and drawing, painting, ceramics and pottery, sculpture, photography, printmaking, cooking, sewing and knitting and more – how do you pick an art class that suits your child?
Well, we have some tips.
Follow your child’s interests
Art classes shouldn’t be boring and they shouldn’t be a chore. They should be something that excites, challenges and inspires your child. So ideally, you’ll want to find an art form that your child has already shown interest in. Does your child love to draw? Does she play with your camera every chance she gets? Or does he love helping you in the kitchen. Uncover those interests – like drawing, photography or cooking – and explore them at home before signing your child up for a course.
It’s important to consider the child’s age and the age-appropriateness of the art classes you’re looking at. Younger children may benefit from more general art and craft classes. This will allow them to explore a range of art mediums and styles and find something specific they love.
Older children tend to enjoy more specialised courses that allow them to develop their skills and dive deeper into their chosen medium.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that not all art and craft classes will be open to all age groups. Activities like woodwork and cooking require access to potentially dangerous tools, utensils and equipment and won’t be suitable for younger children.
Finding the right class or studio
Once you have an idea of what activity your child is interested in, it’s time to find a good class, teacher or studio. Ask for recommendations from other parents or people who work with children, like teachers and childcare providers. Chances are they will be able to provide some great suggestions or recommendations.
Once you have a list of class providers, you should contact them and organise to visit the classes or studio space. It’s important to assess the studio space, talk to the teachers, view some of the student art and, if possible, see some of the kids at work. This will help to give you a sense of how classes are run, what the teachers are like and what kind of atmosphere your children will be working in.
Finding a space your child is comfortable in can be just as important as find the right activity.
What equipment is required?
Different art forms will require access to very different equipment. The necessary equipment can affect the safety, practicality and cost of the art class. For example, a photography class will likely require access to a good quality camera as well as photo editing software. If the class doesn’t supply this equipment, it can be very expensive to buy. You should also consider if your child is old enough or responsible enough to take care of this kind of delicate or expensive equipment.
For other activities, like pottery or ceramics, you will have to rely on the equipment the studio provides, like pottery wheels and kilns. This means that your child can only work on their projects when they are in the studio.
For activities like drawing or knitting classes, very little equipment is needed beyond the pens and paper or yarn and knitting needles. This makes it inexpensive and also means your child can practice what they’ve learned in between classes. You can also have a look on our blog on the What are the Best Surfaces for Resin Art?
Budget and practicality
While no parent wants something like budget to constrain their child’s creative development, it does need to be considered. Ongoing art classes can be expensive, especially if a lot of specialty equipment or materials are required. Talk to the teachers and find out what materials are included in the classes and what you have to pay for. Find out if there are additional costs, like equipment access or hire fees.
You should also consider the practicalities of the classes. For example, how often are classes?How far away are they? Is there a lot of equipment to be carried around? Can your child practice at home? And so on.
An impractical class can add extra strain to your work as a parent and may even cause the child to lose interest if it’s too difficult.
Ultimately, you want a child’s art class to be inspiring and stimulating. A well-chosen class will stimulate creativity, improve coordination and problem solving and hopefully inspire a lifelong love of art. Check out the City of Melbourne’s ArtPlay initiatives for some great ideas to get you started.