Imagine that your young child is a future Monet or Charles Schulz. How would you discover his or her interest in art, or their aptitude for it, if you weren't teaching art as a subject? It could be rather difficult.

Even if your little one is not in the gifted category, art is a medium for his or her creativity, expression, and delight. Learning to make a colorful drawing, a comic poster, or a clay creation can enrich your child's school day. The good news is that there is a lot of material available to help you become an art teacher.

I'm not an art major or a skilled artist. I'm simply someone who has always had an interest in art, decorating, and crafts. To me, buying art supplies and books is the best part of planning a new school year! Here are some of the ideas and materials that have aided me in teaching art to my children, and in my homeschool co-op classes.

To begin with, very young children should be encouraged to draw, regardless of the subject. It's good exercise for their hand-eye coordination. The use of colorful crayons or markers could be introduced around the age of two or three. By the time the child is about five, coloring within the lines of a coloring book picture should be encouraged. While your children are in the pre-school years, expose them to many little arts and crafts projects including the use of such things as colorful pipe cleaners, Play Doh, watercolor paints and finger paints. Between the ages of four and six, depending upon your child's interest, more formalized art classes can begin.

A good practice is for Mom to have a chalkboard, white board, or a large piece of paper available to show the student one stroke at a time what should be done. In the simplest drawing of a fish, the teacher would draw the first line and have the student do the same; then draw the second line with the student copying, and then the third line, adding a small dot for the eye.

The idea of drawing one stroke at a time is to help the child see how to build the drawing step by step. Don't focus on perfection. The goal is to enjoy what you're doing and to model that enjoyment for your offspring. Praise the efforts of your youth, and give him or her a lot of encouragement. You want to teach simple techniques and to help your child savor the experience.

Many books are available for different grade levels. A series for primary grades that I discovered at our state homeschool convention is: Kids Can Draw: Animals of the World; Kids Can Draw: The Circus; and Kids Can Draw: The Ocean all by Philippe Legendre. The technique I described above can be used very successfully with these books. There are other books in this series that may cover themes that you would like better than the ones named above.

For the middle grades, I have used and would recommend these books:

  • Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes
  • Drawing Textbook by Bruce Mc Intyre
  • Drawing Horses by Sandy Rabinowitz
  • Drawing Things with Wings published by Watermill Press, NJ

 

When my son was in the middle grades, he thoroughly appreciated Bruce McIntyre's Drawing Textbook In completing the exercises in the book, he learned the seven principles of drawing: surface, size, surface lines, overlapping, shading, density, and foreshortening. He was challenged to learn to draw items in different positions and with correct alignment. This wonderful little book was the most economical of all of our art textbooks, but it improved my son's skills drastically.

For junior to senior high school, we have purchased and used:

  • Lessons in Perspective Drawing by Lester E. Showalter, Rod & Staff Publishers
  • Art Course for High School, Alpha Omega Publications
  • The Big Book of Cartooning (in Christian Perspective), Book 1, by Vic Lockman
  • Visual Manna's Master Drawing by Rich & Sharon Jeffus

My oldest daughter did very well using Visual Manna's Master Drawing book, and my son enjoyed the Alpha Omega Art Course for High School. We've used all of these books and many others. Each one has enhanced our art curriculum.