Parent/Child Classes:
Why Are They Important?


Q: What is (and why have) a Parent/Child Art Class?
At Oliver Studios, parent/child classes are primarily for the benefit of the child, and the parent/child relationship. Parent/child classes are not designed in order for the parent to assist in doing the child’s art project, nor are they designed so that the parent may take an art class at the same time as the child. Rather, they are designed so that the parent and child may spend some real, quality time together learning about each other’s thoughts and feelings in order to develop and maintain a proper parent/child relationship.

Q: Ok, Sounds good, but what exactly does this mean?
First, let’s define a proper parent/child relationship. The parent in the parent/child relationship is the person with the authority, the leader and the decision maker. It is the parent’s responsibility to protect, to provide for, and to instruct their child, ensuring that they grow up into a responsible adult able to function in (and enjoy) society. In order for this to happen, the kinds of learning experiences that a parent provides for his or her child are very important. The parent/child art class will not only provide for the enjoyable learning of an art skill, but will also provide some valuable lessons as well, provided that the parent understands his or her role in the class.

Q: What is the parent’s role in the parent/child art class?

#1) Have fun!
The parent should always remember that the art class is for fun. It is not the time for you to show others how talented your child is. Nor is it the time for you to prove that you are talented. Relax and enjoy what you and your child are doing. No one is born “knowing”. Show an interest in learning. No matter how experienced you are there is always something to learn. Put away your pride and learn graciously.

#2) Listen carefully and take notes. Your child may need to ask you what to do. None of us are good listeners by nature. Listening is something that most of us can learn to do better. Young children, especially, are just beginning to learn the importance of listening. You can also encourage good listening by asking your child what was just said.

#3) Understand. If you don’t understand what was just said, ask! Your child needs to learn that it is OK to ask questions. To see if your child understands, ask him or her a question about what was just said. Make sure that you and your child understand any new or difficult words especially those having to do with your project. If you are not sure that you understand, try rephrasing the statement back to the teacher.

#4) Try. Don’t be afraid to “dive right in” and try. No one ever learned a skill without trying to do it first. Many people don’t “get it right” on their first try. In fact, most people don’t do a thing well until they have done it many times. This is called learning. When asked why he failed so many times in designing the electric light bulb, Thomas Edison said that he never failed he was just finding out what didn’t work! That is a good attitude. A good attitude toward the learning experience encourages learning. Learning becomes a joyful experience!

#5) Appreciate. Appreciate both what you have done and what you have learned. Children love being able to look at a physical product that they have created. You will find that they will like what they have done. Make sure that you also appreciate what they have made. Take note of its qualities and then ask intelligent questions. You might say: “Wow, what an interesting texture, what are you trying to show?”, or, “I really like the way that shape curves around like that, what made you think of that?” After they explain, you might sincerely say, “What a creative thought! You are a real artist.” You could continue the conversation or invite comment on what you are making. What ever they say, it is their opinion and in this context their opinion is just as valid as your own.

#6) Remember. Remember that every person is different and that his or her art will be different too. Art is a reflection of its creator and as such it is very personal. Avoid criticism and deflect self-depreciatory comments. Art by children, by it’s very nature, is childish. This is not a bad thing or something that a child needs to grow out of. Childhood art is simple and straight forward with a very appealing innocence. In fact, there have been many adults who try to emulate this kind of art. Let the teacher provide the actual art instruction; your job is to enjoy creating art side by side with your child!

Final Thoughts: You are the most important person in your child’s world. You are their example in this world. The way you interact with them will determine the way they interact with others!

Author's Note: Please remember that most of this instruction was given with a young child in mind. Regardless, appropriate application can be made to any age!

This article (c)2005 by Cynthia Bach Sims. All rights reserved.
This article may not be reproduced in any fashion, in whole or in part, without written permission of the author.


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