At a certain point, the ratio of girls to boys in art classes increases and there are predominantly girls. This usually happens in the later elementary school/middle school years. There is a misconception that boys are too active to be interested in art class, that they are not able to sit still for lots of listening. Nothing could be further from the truth! Our upper level art classes of middle school age students have a good mix of both genders, and our top level advanced class is 50% male.
- bite sized pieces. Nuggets of information or directions, followed by creation time, work best for projects. If we have a long or multi-step piece, we break it down into smaller chunks, and let the kids get working sooner. It’s much easier for them to play attention to 5 minutes of lecturing and then start creating (and repeat this process) than to listen to an hour of instruction and then get started.
- change the scene. Every now and then we change the location of our classes, providing a new environment for the kids. This could be a field trip to a museum, or just working in a different room in our studio.
- change the physical work position. If kids seem antsy, changing position can work wonders. We bring out easels or raise the table so they can stand and work, or have them sit on the floor. We tape paper to the wall, or let them try a different chair.
- send them on errands. Kids just have to move sometimes, and we incorporate movement into our lesson plans. The supplies they need are kept on a table, apart from where they create, so they have to get up to get needed items. We’ll have them get up to check out a drawing from another angle. These can be done numerous times if you have a high-energy class.
- allow them to be free range. Don’t force kids to sit in one place all class. Encourage them to get up and try another seat. Walk around and see what other kids are doing in their project. Get a drink of water. As long as they are not disturbing other students, it’s fine to hop up and take a little break.
As you can see, the key to keeping energetic kids engrossed in the classroom activities is variety! By being mindful of the children’s liveliness, instructors can manage it and keep them on task.