Back-to-school with Art in Action

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It may be hard to believe, but it is already back-to-school for many of our Art in Action schools.  Anticipation and excitement are especially evident in our kindergarten parent docents who are not only starting an educational journey for their eager young children, but are also passionately ensuring that those young minds have full access to art education.

We look at kindergarten as the ideal time to start to engender a lifelong love of, and confidence in, art making and art history.  Last year nearly 10,000 kindergartners received this vital exposure at just the right time.  An added bonus was that many of these young students were taught by parents (or grandparents) volunteering in the classroom.  And this is where the power of Art in Action really kicks in.  Studies have shown that “when parents are involved in their children’s education at home they do better in school and when they are involved at school, children go farther in their education.” (National Committee for Citizens in Education).  By training parent volunteers to confidently teach art to their children , we  serve double duty:  we give kids access to art; and we give parents access to their children’s education.

One of my favorite kindergarten lessons is a study of a Japanese Edo screen.  I like it because it exemplifies the theme of this grade – Art Around the World.  Our littlest students have fun talking about this block print because it uncovers layers of inside and outside, nurture and nature.  They grasp the concepts of foreground and middleground and even learn about emphasis – a concept that five year olds can absolutely understand, even if they can’t quite pronounce the word yet!  But my favorite part is the project that they do afterwards.

Using corks and sponges and tempera paint, the students “print” pictures of trees on paper that gets folded into panels, like a Japanese screen.  Each one of their four trees represents a season with the colors and thickness of leaves indicating the passage of winter into spring, summer into fall.  I find that these are some of the most poetic artworks created during the Art in Action kindergarten year.

As we get back to school, we thank the thousands of parent docents who will join us on our art journeys this year.  As your kids continue to grow, we think you’ll be amazed at how a small investment of your time will lead to engaged lifelong learners.

Welcome back.

Jeffrey Dollinger
Executive Director