Why it’s hard to teach children drawing lessons – elementary grades
I met many art teachers and elementary teachers in my art training workshops that share similar frustrating stories about how their students struggle with the ideas of learning reaslim. There’s modern new ways you can approach teaching children drawing lessons. So in this blog I want to share some reasons why this happens, and provide you resources that will alleviate some of these frustrations.
Why Kids Can’t See The Artist Way
Teaching young children the abstract analysis of the structure of form is complicated for many reasons. First, observations on forms, shapes, patterns, scale, light and colors in nature is an abstract concept to the young developing mind. In adult fine art schools these abstract ideas are learned by classifying these ideas into a series of relationships. To learn how to draw the artist must learn concepts like form, shape, and mass to understand nature’s perspective.
My naturalistic studio observations over the past twenty years has revealed that children and adult cognitive processing (what we know and remember), visual perception (what our brain sees), and fine-motor abilities (how we use materials) are connected and responsible for how we learn artist skill sets. So without children being mature in all three areas, children will struggle regardless of how many times you demonstrate how to draw in front of them. Once all three areas are mature realistic imagery can be learned and mastered with practice. Developing the observation of an artist eye comes over time steadily, especially for young children.
Why teachers are frustrated with drawing lessons
I’ve come to learn that these challenges come from having students working on advance copy-mode style lessons focused on the elements and principles of design intended for a more mature art student. Combined with students observing master fine artist media to perceive abstract conceptual ideas in their artworks. These ideas are taught from many different fine art schools of thought, and conflicting points of view on teaching children. Also, typical visual arts education today tries to wrap difficult artistic concepts into fewer art lessons without considering the 3 part sensory system responsible for understanding abstract language of art.
The other reason elementary teachers are running into these roadblocks is public school art standards, and the common core are recommending consolidated art lessons without proper guides or resources for teaching young artist. This method is inappropriate for developing children to learn by. These standards originally came from studying adult fine art studio processes at college and adult level. Lower elementary children are not ready to learn these complicated ideas, and upper elementary children are just coming of age to observe with an artist eye.
A Modern up-to-date way to teach children drawing lessons
Young children must be mature in three areas to start learning the meaning of abstraction. I’ve successfully taught thousands of children how to draw and paint realistic imagery with lessons that support these sensitive cognitive growth phases. I’ve also learned how to separate abstract concepts into smaller lesson parts for better engagement. This modern science art method aligns with a child’s growth. If you would like to learn more about my science art teaching method, you can read my blogs, purchase my books and curriculum here, or join my Newsletter on how to teach kids visual arts.
I’ve recently been getting loads of emails from parents and teachers struggling with this question…
“How can I teach my students art if I don’t know how to paint or draw realistic pictures?”
I’m so excited to answer that question!
First off, you CAN teach elementary grade students how to paint and draw without knowing yourself, I promise.
OK, let’s dive into this and I’ll explain how that is even possible.
I’m a professional illustrator, painter, computer graphic artist… however truth be told… I rarely get to show off these skills to elementary students, because they’re too young for this type of instruction.
I only get to show my skills with high school and adult level students.
Why is that?
The reason is children are not developmentally ready for this type of training.
Children need to be mature in 3 areas.
Over twenty years working with hundreds of thousands of students, I’ve identified the science of how kids learn to paint and draw.
These 3 areas work together developing our art skills over time.
3 Part – Science Art Method
Visual Perception – the eyes ability to gather optical information.
Cognitive Processing – the brain’s ability to process, recall, and process tactile input
Fine Motor Abilities – the ability to create with controlled hand movements.
All 3 areas are directly linked to how we become artistically skillful.
By adolescents these areas are usually developed making it much easier to understand and learn color value, 3 dimensional perspective ideas, and refined motor movements.
It’s been the norm to think we need to be teaching kids the classical Masters along with the Elements and Principles of Design.
Most children struggle to observe this way, and need simpler art lessons. The fact is kids need lots of opportunity to experience foundational drawing and painting lessons.
As an adult you have enough experience and knowledge to teach painting and drawing basics. Here’s some elementary level art ideas you should know, or get to know before getting started;
Be able to draw basic geometric shapes in line
Know how to buy art supplies & materials
Read and follow arts & craft book instructions
Direct your students, or child
Keep track of completed lessons
Be able to demonstrate steps
Have the willingness to explore alongside your students
Push your student to try the next step
Schedule times to finish projects
Sense your students emotions; are they stuck?, do they need visual examples?, do they need verbal explanations to understand each step?
Understand kids are not copy machines, they should not be trying to copy images exactly. Use visual example as guides, not the rule.
I honestly feel that children under 12 years are not getting enough foundational art lessons that can help transition them into realism. Here’s some foundational drawing and painting lesson you can teach without knowing how to draw and paint yourself. But, I promise you these lessons will teach you, and your students how to draw and paint! If you would like to learn more about my science art method, please Check out my books, art lessons, and curriculum – clicking here!
Learn the basic Elements and Principles of Design:
Learn how to make sketch marks and erase
Learn how to doodle with different mediums
Learn how to draw different types of lines
Learn how to combine lines into textures
Learn how to make patterns from lines
Learn how to color your line drawings with different mediums
Learn how to draw geometric shapes
Learn how to draw simple organic shapes
Learn how to draw symmetrical
Learn how to draw asymmetrical
Learn how to balance proportions
Learn what positive and negative space means
Learn how to draw different values using different mediums
Designer Spramani Elaun
Design Kids Art Making Space – Home Organizing Tips
Do you dream of your child making beautiful artworks?
Well I have some great news, you can design your own child’s art space with ease!
Even if you’re in a small living space.
Because the secret to a beautiful art space is really about giving kids the space and permission to work uninterrupted.
Have you heard that mantra “If you build it…they will come”, well in this case it’s true!
If you build a kids art making space well-organized they will create in it regularly.
As an art studio designer, kids art teacher, and home school mom, I’ve had the opportunity to design many stimulating creative art spaces over the past twenty years.
Here’s what I need you to first understand, If you don’t have a book shelf filled with books you won’t raise readers. If you don’t have pens, papers paper or a dictionary handy, won’t raise a writer either. And guess what?… If you don’t have an art space with art supplies, you won’t raise an artist, so let’s talk about getting a space ready for your child to create in.
What Really Needs To Be In An Art Space?
So let’s take a look at the essentials of an art space for kids. In most of my books I’ve written, I share the six stations kids need to do typical arts and crafts. Here’s the six space components:
Here’s a brief description of each of these components.
Now remember this comes from an experienced art teacher, not just a momma.
Table – all activities should take place on a flat surface.
Chair – along with a sturdy table children need a safe place to sit on while working.
Floor Covering – wherever you decide to place an art space, you’ll need to consider spills on the floor.
Light Source – For children to work with color they need a good source of light.
Art supply Storage – Art storage comes in many shapes ands sizes from baskets, jars, plastic storage bins, shelf, or even an art closet.
Sink – Somewhere hopefully there’s a sink accessible, whether it’s a near by bathroom, kitchen or studio sink to wash materials and hands.
Where Should An Art Space Be Located?
This can be its own room, part of your child’s bedroom, family living room, back yard, a section in your basement, even in your kitchen.
I remember one of my home school mom friends had a simple desk in the kitchen for her kids.
I always loved seeing it when we had tea while I visited.
I could see what her daughter was working on at that time, plus her daughter was always near showing my daughter her work while we parents chatted.
My own kids art spaces transitioned through the years they grew and moved around our home.
Now my daughter at 19 likes to draw and paint in her bedroom.
What Art Supplies Go into An Art Space?
You should only have the things out your child’s currently into.
Here’s what I mean –
One time my daughter was into sewing, so I just had all the things for sewing in her art space.
One year my kids were playing around with watercolor paints, so all I had was watercolor books and watercolor supplies out.
Another year my son was totally into building 3D air planes out of paper, legos and blocks.
Next week I’ll go deeper into the specifics why I follow this rules.
I’ll also share my expert tips on organizing and keeping the art space simple and uncluttered.
Until then, hop you start looking for an art space in your home.
I do have another blog I wrote about this topic, check it out below here.