Meet the Expert – Jane McKay, Director at Creative Kids Arts Club
Why do you enjoy teaching art to children?
Children are enthusiastic, full of energy and often fearless when it comes to creating. They are not afraid to try new things or to be flexible with their ideas. At Creative Kids Art Club we give children a starting point for an art project and then encourage them to develop their own ideas over the following weeks. Children learn persistence and perseverance. At the end of the project they are proud of the results, this enables our students to develop feelings of self worth and confidence in their own abilities.
Through our classes we encourage children to find out about art history including the world’s great artists. They can discover some great ideas and techniques and try them out for themselves. We explore a variety of different medias such as drawing, painting, sculpture, clay, craft, sewing, printmaking etc so they are exposed to a wide range of art experiences. We have a flexible working environment that allows children to move around and access materials and see what their classmates are working on. One of the best things about art is that it creates an emotional and expressive outlet for children to communicate and it is lots of fun!
How does art making help children to engage with their environment and why is it important?
Artists of all ages are observant and they have well developed problem solving skills. You really have to look at something to notice the size, colour, shape and aspects of an object before you can draw or recreate it in clay. Being observant helps children to understand their environment and to be excited by the world they live in. If you have seen a young child watching a caterpillar this is an example of the focus I am talking about here.
When their imagination is fired up children become absorbed in the process of creating – an exercise in mindfulness. This focus helps reduce stress and anxiety. Encouraging children to develop their own ideas is really important as it fosters their imagination.
Children rarely need encouragement to play computer games or to watch a movie but creative people dreamed up those cartoons, computer games and characters from movies. These are all out of someone else’s head. We want our children to be active learners, inventing and creating from their own ideas. By encouraging your child to create through art you are assisting them in developing independent thinking. The leaders of tomorrow are going to be independent and creative thinkers so they can solve the problems and creative challenges of the future.
Do you have any fun ideas for art activities children can do together as a group?
Drawing games are fun to do as a group. They encourage interaction and collaboration and are non-competitive. We sometimes use these in our classes and they are always lots of fun! Having a group work on a large art project together such as a mosaic or mural is a great group project. It encourages the sharing of ideas and collaboration between the children. Children need to work together to create a vision for the work and then collaborate to make their ideas a reality solving design issues along the way.
What are your suggestions for encouraging a child’s interest in art?
It is wonderful to support your children in their interests, whatever they may be. At home and when you are out and about be observant to things in the environment, the changing colours of leaves, clouds in the sky, the colours of flowers, the shape of buildings, the framing of a view by a window etc so that children notice the world around them.
To foster an interest in art you can take children to your local art gallery. They have different exhibitions at national and local galleries every few weeks, you can check what’s showing online before you go by looking up the gallery. Visit the public artwork near where you live or in your city and be inspired.
Encourage your child in all their creative endeavours, particularly those that involve their own ideas, as well as movement and interaction with others. You can foster children’s creativity by allowing them to play with art materials. Have some large plastic sheets to throw over your table and let them create! Getting messy is best done in an area with a hard floor so it is easy to clean up. Get some large sheets of paper and let them draw or paint. Make a really long piece of paper by taping lots of A4 sheets together or make or buy drawing books to use throughout the year. Have children illustrate a story they have written and make it into a book. Easy activities to do at home include drawing, painting, plasticine/clay, collage, craft or creating 3D structures. You may just have a budding artist, sculptor or architect at your place!
Art classes will further enhance your child’s artistic development by inspiring them to try new media and techniques. By attending a good art class your child will develop skills, confidence and ideas through self expression and their creative projects. Find out more about art classes and parties in Perth at www.creativekidsartclub.com.au
The Creative Kids Art Club was started in 2011 by Perth artist and teacher, Jane McKay. Jane saw the need for after school art classes that catered to children who loved art and craft. Our aim was to give children as many different creative experiences as possible. We still have many children enrolled in the program today that began with us in 2011. It has been amazing to see these children grow and develop artistically and creatively. The development in their confidence, skills and ideas has been truly inspiring.
Our program changes every term and covers all areas of art from drawing to painting, print making and sculpture, clay work and paper craft as well as sewing and watercolours. We have done over 150 different activities since we began classes.
Classes started with just 4 children at Tresillian in Nedlands and we now have over 130 children attending classes each week. Classes expanded gradually and we found that people were traveling from far and wide to attend! We included extra locations to make it easier for people to get to us in Nedlands, Leederville, East Vic Park, Kingsley, Doubleview, Armadale, Riverton, Bayswater, Willagee and North Fremantle. As demand grew for the classes we employed talented and experienced art teachers who are all equally committed to providing wonderful creative experiences for your children.