by Charlotte B. DeMolay
The title of this post, “Teaching Art to Kids, for Fun and for Profit” probably isn’t the kind of headline you’ve come expect in our current era of under-funded school systems and overloaded teachers.
Fortunately, I am not going to be talking about teaching in a public school system where—well—it’s under-funded and the teachers are overloaded.
Instead, I’m talking about using your own knowledge and skills to fund your art business, gain inspiration, or even earn enough supplement income to stay at home with your kids. I’ve been able to do all three of those things and, yes, I’ve had fun and profit along the way!
So is teaching kids an option for you? Let’s find out.
What it takes to teach art to kids:
First, make sure you know enough about art to teach it.
I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Art and have been a practicing artist for over 14 years. If you don’t have an art degree, but you’ve been a practicing artist for several years you may still be able to teach.
Before sitting down with the kids, get some basic art books from a university bookstore or a well-stocked library. Read about the elements of art and the principles of design. Get comfortable with the vocabulary of art and always be exploring art history. All of this will be important for you as a teacher.
Second, make sure you like be around and teach children. Not everyone is cut out to teach kids, after all.
I first started teaching kids at a non-profit art organization, and then later at my oldest child’s private school. I already knew I liked being around kids, and teaching them actually inspired me to get serious about my own art again.
Third, have a good, professional space to teach. The kitchen table will not cut it if you hope to create a following.
In my own house, I am fortunate enough to have an adjoining formal living room and dining room. I turned the space into a library/studio/classroom.
It took some trial and error with the table arrangements to get just the right set-up for both teaching and creating my own art. I also had to get used to the idea that all my work was on display for some very honest critics.
Now, if you do set up in your home, you don’t want those kids out of your sight, ever! Make sure the front door and the bathroom are within eyesight of the classroom.
If you can’t set up in your home, ask around the community for spaces to rent. Once I had a dance instructor ask if I wanted to share a space with her. There may be an art-related business in your area that would love new instructors and have not only the space, but the clientele!
If it sounds good, but you’re not sure -
You don’t have to jump in all at once. Start by teaching a free class for your city, or a non-profit. Or help someone else with their own kid-oriented art business.
If you have kids in school, volunteer to help their art teacher and see how the classroom is managed and instructed. Help a local PTA teach some after-school enrichment classes or throw an art party for one of your kids!
Teaching art to kids can be a very rewarding experience, but it will take a commitment of time and resources before it grows into a real business.
Examine your abilities, resources and motives and decide if it’s a good fit for you. If the answer is “yes,” then make sure you’re subscribed to the free EE newsletter and watch for my second article, on getting started!