My art class

Recently our library hosted a 4-day Art In Literature program for children ages 5 to 8. One perk of my job is the opportunity to observe classes like this one. Retired art teacher Jamie Willis led the sessions with assistance from volunteer and library board member Phyllis Karpus along with library staff support from Adriane Sparks, Jasmine Jones and Lou Ann Shoultz.

Here are some takeaways from the way they handled these sessions. These are tried and true approaches, but it’s always nice to get a first-hand reminder.

* Call people by their first name.

* When starting an activity, have the attention of all participants before beginning.

* When one person becomes frustrated, take time to help that individual, while allowing others to move forward.

* Have a fun “before class” activity ready as students arrive, something simple that sets the tone as others assemble.

* Keep tasks simple. Did you know, for example, you can cut a leaf with scissors and paper (no need to first sketch it out)

* Review often, keeping everyone engaged.

* Alert ahead to activities on the horizon, creating anticipation for what’s ahead.

* If there are multiple steps to a project, introduce the first one, complete that step, then move on to step 2. Don’t overload with all the instructions up front.

* Consistently reinforce and practice that the work is the students’ (“we are not going to do this for you”). The staff is available as a resource.

* Provide space for the creative and imagination to flourish.

* Have a plan but be adaptable. Adapt to varied skill levels.

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