Teaching is what we do here at Orange Easel.  We teach art skills as well as life skills--like cutting with scissors, holding a pencil, and even using power tools (for the older kids).

We know that as parents, you are your kiddos BEST teachers.  And you've got a lot to teach!  We've got six magical words to help YOU teach anything.  We use them all the time when we're writing out a teaching plan or when we come across an obstacle in class.


I do. We do. You do. 

We think the "We do" step is really the most important (and the hardest) so this blog post is going to focused pretty heavily on that stage. We've outlined some tips below.  Be sure to watch our YouTube video too, where Miss Allison explains more about these three stages.

What can you teach ?

Our job as parents is to make little productive adults, right?  So, what can we teach?  Well, everything we know.  We need to  teach them everything that they'll need to be successful on their own.  All those life skills from tying their shoes to doing their own laundry to checking the tire pressure in their car tires.

There are many checklists floating around blogs and pinterests boards that can give you an idea of what kinds of tasks your children are ready to learn.  Do a google search.  Or just take our word for it, and check out this one from FamilyEducation.com

We generally believe that kids are much more capable than we give them credit for.  Given the proper TEACHING, they can be responsible for many jobs around the house.  

And teaching is what we do here. So, let us help you out.  

I do. We do. You do.

These are the steps.  There's no timeline for them.  There's no magic number of times you have to show them and do it with them before they "get it."  There's nothing that says that just because you've made it successfully to YOU DO that you don't have to revisit the WE DO stage when the bathroom cleaning gets a little lax.   

Just know that when your little ones (or big ones) are struggling with something that they SHOULD know how to do, it's time to go back to WE DO.

The Importance of We Do.

That means together.  Like side-by-side.  Fully supportive.  This is hard because whatever it is that you're trying to teach is going to take twice as long with someone else tagging along.  Gah.  It's going to be frustrating.  This is going to test your patience.  For you control freaks out there, this is going to test your ability to let go a little bit.  

The goal with WE DO is to teach them these new skills through cooperation not through coercion.  Everyone's experience will be better if your kiddos actually want learn it.  The pace of the learner matters.  

In no particular order, here's are best advice on WE DO.
  • It's not all-or-nothing.  Just because you're teaching your kids to do their own laundry and you're in the WE DO stage doesn't mean they have to always do it with you.  You can still do stuff for them.  They might even appreciate it a little more.  We all like it when people do stuff for us, right?  
  • Check your attitude.  If you're not in a teaching mood, don't bother.  See above and just do it yourself.  
  • Check their attitude.  Just because you're ready to teach, doesn't mean that their are ready to learn.  Set yourself up for success.  Make a plan together.
  • Teach with kindness, patience, and humor.  Don't just bark orders.  WE DO.  So, you do it too.
  • Don't expect perfection.  Don't refold the clothes.  Don't re-chop the onions.  Unless it's going to hurt or injury someone else in the family, leave it.
  • Get them on board with the process.  "Can you help me with dinner?" will usually get a positive response.  
  • If it gets stressful, call it off.  Live to fight another day.
  • Be a team.  Yes, laundry stinks.  Nobody likes to do dishes.  But, hey, we're in this together, kid.  Let's get it done.  
  • Praise them.  Not "Good job."  Instead try: "I really appreciate your help." "I know it's hard to learn something new.  You really tried hard and you got it."  "You made my evening better."  "I love spending time with you."  
  • Thank them for their help.  Even if it took five times longer than it normally does.

But, what if they just don't want to?

Honestly, who really WANTS to do laundry?  We get it.  It's hard to make these chores attractive.  

If you've got a little one who has dug in their heels on something, pick a different battle.  Start with something they're interested in.  Go slow.  Especially if they haven't had many responsibilities leading up to this point.  

That WE DO stage might need to last a good long while.  

Hang in there, parents.  You're raising responsible adults and that's not an easy task.
 
 
Most students already attend a weekly art class in school.  Why should elementary, middle school, and even high school students take art classes OUTSIDE of school?  Isn't it the same thing?

There are many ways that our big kids benefit from regular weekly art classes OUTSIDE of school. Here are just a handful:
1. For some children, art is their THING. Not dance. Not soccer. Not girl scouts. They are makers and creators at heart. Orange Easel gives these makers a PLACE and a community. Here they will find like-minded peers!

2. For some children, art is an outlet. It's is freedom from failure and rules. They don't care what the finish product is and they need a place that doesn't judge them based on the outcome. Art is PLAY at its purest and safest form.

3. In elementary school art classes, PLAY and EXPERIMENTING is often frowned upon because time is limited and the ultimate goal of the course is to have each child demonstrate mastery of an art skill. Orange Easel as no such underlying structure. We are looking for our artists to demonstrate curiosity and a desire to create. Our ultimate goal is to create artists, not art.

4. For some children, ART is something they want to get better at. Maybe they were gifted amazing drawing or painting talents. Just like in sports, a great coach or instructor can help facilitate growth and shorten the learning curve.

5. Some children are timid and unsure of their own ideas. Art outside of the school environment provides a safe place to gain confidence...because there are no wrong answers. Only the next right one.

6. Art is BIG. Outside of school, we can explore just how BIG it is. Did you know that you can be an artist even if you aren't a strong painter or illustrator? Many adults falsely believe that if you can't draw, you "don't have an artistic bone in your body." Controlling a pencil--while useful--is not necessary for fiber arts, or pottery, or mixed media applications. At Orange Easel, our entire year is designed to give artists a sense of just how BIG the art world is. This way, they can begin to see that there IS a place for them.
Here's to all our young artists and makers -- you're going change the world with your idea and your courage!
 

After School Art

08/26/2014

 

Art-Making {Transition from School to Home}

The first thing my kids want to do when they get home from school is get a snack and veg-out in front of the television.  (Admittedly, some days, that exactly what happens.)  But my favorite thing to do with them after school is paint.  
Paint is inviting.  It's sensory.  It's open-ended.  Plus, they don't fight while they're doing it.  AND, sometimes they actually tell me about their day while they paint! 


We don't always paint.   Sometimes we draw or sculpt. I like to have an activity planned for them when they get off the bus.  

My favorite art activities are PROCESS-FOCUSED...meaning, that the emphasis is on the experience of creating the art instead of trying to achieve an end-product (we call that CRAFT).

Here, I had dug out some forgotten colored pencils and a spiral notebook.  Ava decided she wanted to fill her book with different monster drawings.  She drew monsters. I drew monsters.  And we talked about our day while dinner cooked.  

It's important to note that your kids don't care if you can draw.  As a matter of fact, they probably think that you draw really well.  (don't tell them otherwise)


I put together a collection of some of my favorite art invitations for after school.  These are invitations that are require very little prep on your part.  Some of these may seem "too young" for your big kids, but never underestimate the older kids' desire to finger paint.  (And how GOOD it is for them!)

Art Invitations

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Credit Card Painting
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Marshmallow sculptures
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Paper plate weaving
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Bubbling Art
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Finger Painting
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Melted Crayon Rocks
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Graph Paper Drawings
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Art Journals
Check some of these out.  And, if you try one, or if you have your own favorites, tell me about it in the comments below! 
 
 
Dear World,

My young son starts to school today . . . It's going to be sort of strange and new to him for awhile, and I wish you would sort of treat him gently. You see, up to now he's been king of the roost . . . He's been boss of the backyard . . . His mother has always been near to soothe his wounds and repair his feelings.

But now things are going to be different.

This morning he's going to walk down the front steps, wave his hand, and start out on the great adventure . . . It is and adventure that might take him across continents, across oceans . . . It's an adventure that will probably include wars and tragedy and sorrow . . . To live his life in the world he will have to live in, will require faith and love and courage.

So, World, I wish you would sort of look after him . . . Take him by the hand and teach him things he will have to know.

But do it gently, if you can.

He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, that all men are not true.
But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero . . . that for every crooked politician there is a great and dedicated leader . . . Teach him that for every enemy, there is a friend.
Steer him away from envy, if you can . . . and teach him the secret of quiet laughter.

In school, World, teach him it is far more honorable to fail that to cheat . . . Teach him to have faith in his own idea, even if everyone says they are wrong . . . Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with tough people.

Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone is getting on the bandwagon . . . Teach him to listen to all men--but teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth and take just the good that siphons through.

Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he's sad . . . Teach him there is no shame in tears . . . Teach him there can be glory in failure and despair in success.

Treat him gently, World, if you can, but don't coddle him . . . Because only the test of fire makes fine steel . . . Let him have the courage to be impatient . . . Let him have the patience to be brave.
Let him be no other man's man . . . Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself.

Because then he will always have sublime faith in mankind.

This is quite and order, World, but see what you can do . . . He's such a nice little fellow, my son!

By Dan Valentine
To all new kindergartners:  Go be awesome.  ~ ORANGE EASEL