As an art teacher and professional illustrator, I was happy to learn that my kindergartener would have art class once a week, and I was very curious to see what kind of art curriculum would be implemented in class. I have over 5 years of experience teaching art, especially focusing on ages eight and under. My classes are structured around the elements and principles of art, and I have found kids even as young as three to be very receptive to these concepts, not to mention the frame-worthy artwork they create while learning them.
So far this year, my five-year-old has had six art classes (once per week), and for all but one she has brought home nothing but pixellated coloring pages printed from the internet, with the web address still intact at the bottom. The one day that she didn’t bring home coloring pages, she proudly showed me a scrap of paper with some fringe cut off the bottom. She told me they were supposed to glue things to it, but they didn’t have glue that day. She reported that their most recent art lesson was “learning to color inside the lines,” which some might argue could be considered an anti-art lesson.
With countless ideas and budget friendly projects at our disposal via the internet, Pinterest, YouTube, art books, etc., coloring pages should be considered a last resort. It is so much more beneficial at the very least to give children a blank sheet of paper and even a little direction (draw a face, draw a tree, draw an animal) and see where their imagination takes them. My sister who has a degree in early education was taught that coloring pages and materials similar to that should be used sparingly in the classroom, if at all.
If the budget is low for art supplies, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to include a $1 set of watercolors to our school supplies lists at the beginning of the year. Great deals on art supplies can be found, especially after school has begun and stores are trying to clear out their inventory. There are also plenty of wonderful projects that can be used with recycled materials too. There is no excuse for coloring pages being used in art class.
It is my hope that this will be resolved soon, and a proper art education can begin. My daughter tells me they are going to paint next week. Then again, she said that last week and came home with this: