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.

Did you like this article? Share it!
Then check out the related posts below.
The title of this post, "Teaching Art to Kids, for Fun and for Profit" probably isn't the kind of headline you've come expect in our current era of under-funded school systems and overloaded teachers. Fortunately, I am not going to be talking about teaching in a public school system where—well. . . read more
If you're an established artist and you feel pretty comfortable with your medium, its probably only a matter of time until you've had some inquiries about teaching an art class or art workshop. Teaching art is usually a nice way to keep yourself in art supplies, and it can also be a creative j. . . read more
Today's article is the third in my series on teaching art to kids. Make sure to check out articles one and two if you haven't already. OK, so you've done all the brain-work. . . you know who, what, and where you'll be teaching, plus how much you're going to charge to do it. Now for the tricky . . . read more
Recently I attended a fun Saturday workshop on making garden ornaments. It was held by a hilarious artist who creates unique garden sculptures from wire, foil, fabric, gauze and found bits. She led us around her garden, pointing out the various fairies and goblins hiding in the grass, then we . . . read more
Today’s article is the last in my series on teaching art for fun and for profit. Make sure to check out articles one, two and three if you haven’t already. All right—your classes are going well, kids are learning, and great art is being made. You're excited and ready for more. . . more s. . . read more
Stay current.
Subscribe to EmptyEasel's free weekly newsletter for artists. Sign up today!
Art Contests
More art contests. . .
EE Writers
Cassie Rief Niki Hilsabeck Brandi Bowman Michelle Morris Lisa Orgler Adriana Guidi Carrie Lewis Aletta de Wal

If you'd like to write for EmptyEasel, let us know!

We love publishing reader-submitted art tutorials, stories, and even reviews.Submit yours here!