Fall term, in review

Last September, my vision of starting an Art school for children turned into reality! In the past 10 years, I have been teaching children in community centres and summer camps but never fully dedicated myself to teaching as I have been focused on growing my career as a visual artist.The right opportunity came along and it was also the right time for me. This blog talks about how I planned the programs for the art school and what I learned from my dear students this past busy term!.

In March 2017, I wrote a proposal to open an after school dedicated to raise future Jewish artists to The Jewish day school- Vancouver Talmud Torah. This was the intro to my writing: "My vision is to create a space where children feel happy and creative; offering them opportunities to explore, feel safe; to run away from daily pressures and where children find their creative inner voice. I envision a place where children grow and develop". The board embraced my vision and provided a gorgeous space in the old wing of the school. I was already teaching art at Talmud Torah 2 days a week, but the proposal's intention was to grow to 5 classes a week and to accommodate 50 students! It was pretty ambitious... but I was committed, very excited and ready to open my heart to this new possibility. I had many things to do, such as planning each age group program and I also had to renovate the space which was in a very bad condition. Firstly, I focused on planning the various programs for different age groups according to what I thought was in need. Once the program was ready and registaryin started, I focused on the renovations.

The program looked like this:

Mondays- Preschool to Kindergarten age group (4-5).

Join this playful class, where every Monday we will have a tea party & cupcakes, while listening to stories from books and exploring creativity. Whether is the character in the story, the message or one single image, children will get the inspiration and the opportunity to create art projects using interesting materials and their own creative drive.

This is a photo of the sweet young students from Mondays' class having fun, inspired by the book

"Russell the sheep"

What did I learn from teaching these wonderful young group? I learned that this age group needs a lot of fun, playfulness and diversity. I observed, listened and adapted as the program went on. It was a great learning experience!.

Going nuts with hand painting!

A Fashion Show by the Monday girls. It was their idea after reading the story "Hannah and the 7 dresses". They absolutely loved the fashion show and me too!

Tuesdays- Grades 4 - 6, age group 10 - 12.

In this class, students will be encouraged to develop their own style of artwork while learning to combine painting, illustration and mixed media technics. Children will embark on a self-journey into discovering their inner artist and voice, without seeking approval or copying from others. The group will have a unique experience of painting a big piece together with me.

I knew this age group will be the hardest group to engage. I decided that the program would start with 6 students and my hope was that these 6 students would bring their friends. Luckily a group of 8 students gathered, they created beautiful art projects and the program ran smoothly and we had lots of fun.

Tuesday students showing proudly their 3D portraits.

What did I learn from teaching these group of pre-teens? Social, social, social! In this age group, my role felt more as a facilitator than a teacher. I let them interact, decide and dare to take risks. Snacks and talking took a big part of the class! There were a lot of calls for re-focusing in their projects as their social need took over their creative need. It was an amazing experience!

Social, social and more socializing!

Wednesdays- K - Grades 1 - 3, age group 5 - 9.

In this popular class, children will be introduced to Folk art from around the world and will create projects using interesting materials. The class is mostly based on 3D projects and some painting. The group will have the opportunity to paint a big piece together with me.

I enjoyed seeing how older and younger kids interacted through the term and the amazing energy and companionship that formed through art making.

Wednesday students showcasing their Mexican peacocks.

What did I learn from teaching this diverse group of kids? I love this age group, especially grade 1 and 2. They are free spirited when it comes to make art and their enjoyment is contagious. They feel comfortable with their fine motors skills, especially grade 2 - 3, and this allows them the freedom to use colour and materials in a way that turns their freedom into amazing projects. I also enjoyed seeing the friendships among older and younger kids.

Kinder, grade 2 and grade 3 students working together on the floor!

Thursdays- Grades 1 - 4, age group 6 - 10.

In this popular class, children will be introduced to Folk art from around the world and will create projects using interesting materials. The class is mostly based on 3D projects and some painting. The group will have the opportunity to paint a big piece together with me.

Thursday students displaying their Mexican peacocks.

What did I learn from teaching a large group of kids? Teaching 15 kids for an 1 1/2, it could be pretty challenging at times, especially after school! They are hungry, tired, anxious to go home... but they love to do art so I am lucky to have all these mixed feelings combined! It creates great results. As a teacher, I would love to have time every class to sit, talk and guide each one of my students but when it comes to a big group, this can be hard to achieve. On the other hand, when the kids see me so busy they learn to be independent, look around, ask their peers and take their own decisions. I think these are great qualities to learn in a classroom and I am happy to witness this growth. Some of the grade 1 students in this class worked independently and delivered amazing art projects!

Grade 1 student working independently on her Mexican Peacock.

Sundays- Grades 1 - 4, age group 6 - 10.

Initially I didn't plan to teach on Sundays until a group of parents approached me with the initiative of opening a morning class. Sunday mornings are always relaxed and it is an ideal time to teach and do arts. This class consisted of a smaller group of kids. I realized how different the atmosphere was when the kids came straight from home and not from school.

What did I learn from teaching this small and relaxed group of kids? Sunday Art Class is for "freak-do-art" students only! They love to make art, they are willing to take a class on a Sunday morning and they are very good at it. These students completed quality art projects in a quiet, clam and easy atmosphere. I loved them so much!

"The stories you believe to be true are the ones your life will become"

with love, Jazmin

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