This week is National Arts in Education Week. I like this week because I think art is important. I like this week because I love art. I like this week because I’m not sure what I would do without the arts in my life. I was lucky enough to attend primary and middle schools where visual art and music were part of the curriculum. In high school, I took art classes every semester and in college, I majored in painting. Art is something I have always taken seriously and never questioned its place in my world or the world at large. I want School on Wheels students to have that same opportunity and exposure.

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Art can elevate our surroundings and lift our spirits. This is a worthy pursuit for all kids, but especially for our students who are living in shelters and facing difficult times. Over the last three years, we have worked to make sure art is available at all of our tutoring locations. Each tutoring site has a creativity kit, which was designed to expose students to different artists and mediums. Last year we added a sound component that includes an MP3 player loaded with information about the artists and pieces from the Museum of Modern Art and musical selections that influenced the artist. The next time you are at tutoring you may want to ask your student if they like art.

If so, use this tips to enhance their experience with the Creativity kit: 

  • Follow the child’s lead, see if they gravitate towards the materials or want to look at the artwork in the album.
  • If they don’t know which activity to pick, ask them what they like to do – do they like to paint, draw, sculpt and try new things?
  • See if you can get them to talk about the artist’s work on the activity card. Use the questions on the card to get them thinking.
  • collageAsk the student if they want your help or if they would like you to work alongside them. Sometimes doing the same activity together takes the pressure off creating a “masterpiece.”
  • If you don’t know much about art or the artist featured on the card, use it as an opportunity to learn together. The cards have information about each artist and links you access on the iPads to explore further. The headphone symbol indicates the card has an audio component – grab the MP3 player and listen to learn something about the artist.
  • Encourage the child to try new things and make mistakes. Good artists practice and practice, and discover things along the way. It does not have to look exactly like what you see on the card.
  • Point out the cool things you see in the student’s work. Whether it’s a cool color choice, an interesting mark or a different way of looking at something.

Art is about representing something in a unique way, and each of our kids is unique. It’s a perfect combo!

Want to learn more about how School on Wheels provides art to students? Check out our other art-related blogs!