Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Parent led art programs in the classroom

I know I have readers who are parents and readers who are teachers and, like me, readers who are both. So I am curious to hear peoples opinions on parent led art programs in elementary  or I suppose any age classroom. I was at a meeting last night with several other art teachers from my district and they were expressing some very strong opinions about having parents come into a classroom and teach art lessons. Several of the elementary schools that feed into my program have parent led art and it is pretty common here in Oregon where there are not many elementary art teachers. For the sake of discussion let's assume there are no art teachers in the school where the parent led program is going on.

So my question is...
What do you think about having parents provide art lessons for students?
Have you ever been a parent art presenter? What were your experiences like?

I had honestly never given much thought to how I felt about such programs but apparently others have so I would like to know what you think!


  1. Before I had kids I was an art teacher in a middle school, roughly 300 kids. I never had the opportunity to have a parent come into my classroom and back then I'm not sure how I would have felt about it. Probably threatened or intruded upon, but it honestly would have depended on which parent approached me and what kind of projects they had in mind.

    Now that I have kids I don't teach any more and my kids attend a very small school corporation with roughly 300-350 kids from kindergarten to high school. The art teacher covers two towns and is divided between all those students. I feel that she's stretched too thin. I'm disappointed that my 8 year old sons only get 25 minutes of art lessons a week and very little artwork has come home. I don't doubt she's a good teacher but I think that she doesn't have enough prep time and too little time with each grade to actually teach art.

    I'd be happy to come in and teach art lessons but I also would have a difficult time volunteering because I've been on both sides of the fence. Teachers can be territorial and as a parent I certainly wouldn't want to step on their toes. On the other hand, as a teacher, I would have a problem with a parent coming in with no art experience trying to teach a lesson when they've never handled a large group of children before. That just sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. I think I'd definitely have to be picky about which parents I allowed into my classroom.

  2. I'm a parent at an elementary school in PDX, and I have been an art literacy presenter in my son's classroom for the last 4 years (K-3). Our school is relatively affluent, and we have more "specials" than most other PPS elementary schools, but there has not been any kind of art teacher at our school for a long time. Adding art to thier curriculum is left to the individual teacher, but it is generally some kind of arts & crafts project that supplements whatever theme the class is addressing. They receive no actual classroom education about artists or elements of art, etc. Our PTA funds an art literacy program, and parent presenters go into each classroom 5-6 times a year.

    I have no teaching or art training, and occasionally am a little out of my depth if our provided curriculum is thin, however, I volunteer *many* hours a week, the kids all know me, and managing the classroom hasn't been a problem. All my son's teachers have been very open to having me come in and teach a lesson. In addition to exposing the children to various artists, it's often an opportunity for the students to explore a media that they would otherwise not be able to do in the classroom. It's also one of the few occasions where process is stressed over product.

    Of the 12 classroom teachers at our school, there is only one that prefers not to have an art lit parent.

  3. I think the main problem with having parent led programs is that it might be seen as eliminating the desire for having an art teacher. As in, "we don't need an art teacher, we get that that for free." What I would hope it would mean is that parents nod others think it is important enough to provide what the school system is not.

  4. As a parent and an artist/art teacher, I watch the art program at my sons' schools (3 different ones) with much interest! My kinder gets art for a half an hour once a month (which for him is not enough). So we do lots of artsy stuff at home. I've noticed this year in Kindergarten they are really getting down to business with worksheets, etc (it seems more so than when my others went) so I reached out to the teacher and asked if I could come in and do art with the kids. She has me come in once a month and I make my art lessons have a book, some art skills, different media and really connect with skills they are learning (seasons, matching, shapes, etc.). I am not trying to step on anyone's toes, but I really think the Kinders need LOTS of art, so if the school isn't going to pay for it--I'll come in. I do worry that the school will feel as though they can get it for free, but art gets cut first (pretty much) anyway...I feel like I'm saying that I value art as a parent and feel it needs to be included in the curriculum even more. When I offer to come into a classroom, it's an offer--I don't insist, I don't push it. Teachers are busy and they don't need me derailing their plans. But most teachers have taken me up on it. So that's what I do in the regular classrooms, in the ART classrooms I volunteer as a helper. I'm on a bi-weekly schedule with the Elementary art classroom and around Art Show time, I ask if I can help the Kinder teacher out by prepping work for the show. We are lucky to have wonderful art programs and the art teachers have their years planned--I don't feel the need to ask to teach in their classroom--I am just glad to help and learn while I am there (and hang out with my kid and his friends while they enjoy their special). I think having no art teacher in a school is crazy--some classroom teachers just don't enjoy art so it doesn't make it into their classroom much. Also, in the older grades, children need to learn about the elements of art and principles of design--little seasonal craftsy projects may not cut it. I'd be worried that having an art program based on volunteers that may not have a vision of the long term goals of a well-planned and well-balanced art history-rich program is truly a disadvantage...I would never want that for my childrens' schools. Sorry for the rambling! Mrs. P @

  5. Hey fellow Oregonian...we are having an Oregon blogger meetup! Would love to have you join. Feel free to e-mail me if you want more info.

    Chickadee Jubilee

  6. I was an 'art docent' in my sons' elementary school for 4 years. We used a program from the Museum of Fine Art, Houston. We hung an image from the museum collection in the classroom for a month. The docent would go in, discuss the piece, and do a simple 30-45 minute project to go along with it.

    The school had a full time art teacher (with art room) as well. I don't see any conflict. It was great to get parents involved. The kids got to see and study a new artwork every month - it complemented the school's art program.

    I was a stay at home mom at that point. I loved the experience so much I got my art teaching credential. Just finishing my 10th year in my own art room.

  7. I used to be a certified art teacher in high school and then I had kids. I've been a stay-at-home mom for the last 13 years and have watched my kids' schools go from having a full time art teacher whom they would see once a week to none at all. I let my kids' teachers know at the beginning of the year that I have taught art and would like to teach it to their class once or twice a month. Most teachers have taken me up on it and a few have not-and those that didn't told me later that they regret no doing so. I only teach my kids classes and on rare occasion will come into a former teacher's class if they ask. I usually teach something about a particular artist and their style and then they duplicate that style-I usually do a whole art lesson in
    11/2 hours allotted time and pick lessons that can be finished in that time. Although I was trained in DBAE art education, I just don't have that time to commit to teaching all the areas and I don't see how many elementary art teachers would nowadays with only seeing kids for 30 min or so-it would literally take a month or more to make it through a lesson.
    The kids usually love my ideas and enjoy art time. My son tells me that he and a lot of the other kids like it when I come in because they learn something about the artist and their style and they get a new artist each time I come in.This year, I started substitute teaching, so I don't get to come in but once a month. There is another parent who teaches art on the other week that I don't come in but she teaches more of a hands-on, how-to approach and doesn't teach any background info, artist or style-she teaches out of an art book but she doesn't have any art experience, she just thinks art is important and wants to see the kids have art.