Now that my son is grown and on his own, I have decided to write a little series on raising an artistic child.
(Let me preface this article by saying that raising a child in an artistic manner doesn’t necessarily foretell a child who will become an artist. My own son’s artistic bent went towards music during his school years. I am still waiting to see if that continues on into adulthood.)
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That said, the very first thing that parents needs to think about before beginning any form of artistic teaching, or expression, is to make a specific space for these activities.
Understand that when the child feels ownership of an area, they will be more likely to utilize that area. You will have to take into account the age of your child at this time, and of course, what you can afford (either spacewise or moneywise) to create an art room.
For young children it’s best to keep the activity place in an area where you stay for a long amount of time. If this is the kitchen, then it can be the counter or the kitchen table. In the living room, it can be the hearth, or a corner or niche. A simple card table that can fold up and be tucked away will suffice for work surface here.
Using a part of a child’s bedroom is great for older children who can be trusted with some unsupervised time. In the summer, a covered porch area is also a great idea and one that would be quite enjoyable, weather permitting. Those rainy day art times may have to go indoors.
Furnishings don’t have to be lavish. Start out by going to a low-price store and getting a few of those cheap table cloths that are used for picnic table liners. Place these over the surface for easier cleaning, especially if your table is a good wood table. Use a second one, or simply save some newspapers, for the floor of the working areas.
Get a deep bin, or tote, or large tupperware container even, to place all the art supplies. Have a specific area where this bin is placed—it can be in a cabinet or behind something out of sight—but make sure it is in the art area.
Included in your child’s art space should be an area for drying and for hanging their masterpieces. Drying can be done with a simple strung area of yarn or cord. Depending on age, be sure to keep this above the reach of little hands, which may pull and tear. Simply use spring clothespins to hold in place. For older children, a foldable clothes drying rack is also a good idea.
Display the finished, dry art pieces in a place of pride. For young children, the refrigerator doors may suffice, but as they get older, choose a place in the living area, den or a hallway in a high traffic area.
Make sure your child understands that their artwork won’t stay up forever. Make an agreement on the timeframe, and swap it out with newer creations. Place the older pieces in a large shoebox or plastic lidded box, such as the child’s closet, under a bed, etc.
Finally, always let your child be part of the decisions regarding their art space and storage spaces. This way they will truly feel that the space is theirs, and be more likely to use it on their own without prodding.