How to Teach Art to Kids, for Fun and for Profit (Part 2)

Published on Jul. 30th 2009


If you’ve already found the first article in this series (and have done some research and a little soul-searching) and you’ve decided that teaching art to kids is a path you want to pursue, then keep on reading!

There are a lot of additional decisions you’ll need to make before you can start teaching your class. It will be much easier to get things started if you take each part step-by-step and stay organized—so here are the main points you’ll need to consider:

Classroom tables and seating space

First, decide on the space you will teach in, whether it’s in your house or elsewhere in your community. Set-up tables (or measure the space if you haven’t bought tables yet) and set a limit on how many students you can comfortably teach. Keep in mind the size of the projects you’ll be doing.

For my own classroom, I use two 5-foot long tables and one 6-foot long table set up in an “L” shape. I like to teach from the inside of the “L” and not have any students with their back to me; therefore my maximum class size is 7 students.

(I could technically fit 14 chairs using both sides, but I regularly use 12” x 18” paper and even 16” x 20” canvases during projects, so limiting my class to 7 students makes sure there’s plenty of room for the children to work.)

I am very comfortable with this size since it also means I can give each student a lot of individual attention. You may prefer larger or smaller classes depending on your space and teaching style.

Grouping students by age

It’s important to determine what ages or grades you’ll teach, and how the classes will be divided. I like to keep no more than one or two years of difference in Pre-schoolers through 2nd grade, and two or three years difference in 2nd grade through 8th grade. High schoolers are generally all together.

For preschoolers, I’ve found that children younger than four are not really into “art” as much as they are into creative play. I am also more flexible with my groupings for homeschool students who are more used to working alongside other students of differing ages.

Class length and duration

The frequency and duration of your classes is a key decision as it determines your pricing and marketing.

My classes are one hour long, once each week for ten weeks. Throughout the year, I teach three 10-week sessions: Fall, Winter & Spring.

In the past, I’ve taught anywhere from two to seven classes during a week (each one is for a different age group) depending on how I want to structure my schedule.

This flexibility is both a blessing and a hindrance. For example, I decided to not offer preschool classes or classes during school hours for next year because I am returning to school myself.

But, because of how I schedule my sessions, it is always hard for me to add or drop a class for Winter or Spring once everyone has become accustomed to Fall’s schedule.

Type of art classes

Knowing what type of art classes you want to teach may require some significant research unless you have prior teaching experience.

I teach a fairly formal structure during my three sessions. I base my lesson planning on the Elements of Art and concentrate on different elements during each session.

You may decide to be more project-based than vocabulary based, for example teaching watercolor one session and manga drawing during another. Look to other art classes for examples and see what seems to be a good fit with your teaching style, skills, and interests.

Price per student

After all the previous decisions have been made, it will be time to determine what you will charge for tuition. This is an extremely important step, because if you do not feel properly compensated, you will not enjoy teaching as much, and you may burn out.

On the other hand, it is easy to price yourself too high for the market. If you are doing what parents deem is a craft, they may just take their children to the nearest mega-art store for their free classes!

There are several factors that should determine your prices, including where you’re teaching (do you need to rent a classroom?), how many hours you are teaching, and how specialized the information is.

For my own business, I use an hourly rate to decide the price structure. When you use an hourly rate, it’s easy to compare your earnings with other work you do (or have done) and decide on a price that you feel comfortable with.

Since I base my sessions on the local school district, some session have been 9 weeks or 12 weeks instead of 10, so the hourly rate makes it very simple for me to determine the final cost.

Keep in mind, you will need to use some of your fee for supplies—I always calculate 10% for my own classroom. You may spend more than this at the beginning while stocking your studio, but over time I’ve found this to be a very accurate average.

Once you’ve made your decisions for each of the steps above, you will be off to a good, solid start—but believe it or not, that’s not everything you need to know!

Be sure to subscribe to the free EE newsletter so you won’t miss the third article in this series, coming next week. I’ll explore marketing your class, setting classroom policies, and much more.

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