Do you ever wonder how the art moms on social media actually get their kids to create art? The photos are beautiful, the kids are engaged, and the materials beg to be used. What’s their secret sauce?
Most likely, they’ve been inspired and nurtured by Jean Van’t Hul, the founder of The Artful Parent.
Jean started The Artful Parent partly to chronicle and share the experiences with her children’s art group, and also as a way for her to focus more on what it means to her to be an artful parent.
This episode is our conversation on what it’s been like growing the blog, writing books, and engaging her passions.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:
– How Jean’s passion developed into a business where she can serve and inspire parents to incorporate art into their household
– Ways to introduce art daily without creating the big mess
– What an art invitation is and the purpose it serves for young artists
– The challenges of turning a blog into a business that makes a real impact
– How learning to let go of some responsibilities gives yourself room to try new things and serve more people
LISTEN TO THE SHOW
1. What was your path/journey to teaching art?
I loved art as a child, studied art history and studio art at college, and then worked in the art field (art museum, art magazine, art website, public broadcasting). But it wasn’t until my first daughter was born, my interest in art was revitalized. I realized that I wanted to raise her in an art-rich environment and to encourage her creativity and imagination as much as possible. I read books about parenting, of course, but also as much as I could find about children’s art.
Guided by the ideas I came across, I started a Toddler Art Group in my home with several other moms and their toddlers. We met weekly, combining a play group with art activities.
I started The Artful Parent blog partly to chronicle and share the experiences with the children’s art group, and also as a way for me to focus more on what it meant to me to be an artful parent. I wanted to parent in a way that encourages creative expression, imagination, joyfulness, and a love of learning, not just in my daughters, but in our entire family.
2. What do you feel is your best attribute or strength as an art teacher?
I see myself as a children’s art enabler, rather than as an art teacher.
I help kids explore the possibilities of art. Sometimes I do that directly with kids (mine, friends, children’s art groups and classes), but mostly my focus is on helping parents make art and creativity a bigger priority in their families. I do this by showing them easy and fun art activities they can do at home, and also through inspiration, motivation, and education, as much as possible. I have teachers, caregivers, grandparents, and others come to The Artful Parent for ideas, but my focus is on the parent and on the family environment.
There are pros and cons to this. Being outside of the education system, I feel like I have more freedom to focus on art and creativity unencumbered by expectations and red tape. However, I have to get parental “buy-in”. Instead of competing for limited time and resources within a school system and convincing those powers of the importance of art education, I am competing for limited time and resources within a family and convincing a parent about the importance of children’s art and creativity.
3. What do you do well in the art room and how does this benefit your students?
I am enthusiastic about the possibilities in any activity, material, or technique and love to explore, combine, experiment, and encourage children to do so as well. I feel like this approach helps children develop self confidence, self expression, creativity, and their problem solving abilities.
4. Why do you feel teaching art to kids is important?
The benefits of art are tremendous and varied, but I believe that art is an especially excellent way to foster creativity in children.
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