My art student says... “This is so hard!” as he paints one part of his arm on a cardboard... In my mind, I’m just praying he gets through this art lesson faster, as I knew for sure that the next one where he puts everything together would be a blast for him. He will love it so much! The problem, the present moment is boring for him. But I didn’t want to give up on the portrait drawing project yet (because so many other children enjoyed this project!). I felt this was a “problematic” child who has very limited attention span.
Do you also get that kind of moment? Moments where you wish your child will quit complaining and get the work done? Screaming in your mind, “Just a little bit more and you get to do whatever you want! Why can’t you just finish that a little bit more?”
I meet with this struggle all the time. When touching up a child’s artwork is so much easier than talking/coaxing/guiding him through it. Yet, deep inside, I knew I couldn’t do that. It wouldn’t be his artwork if I helped him complete it. It just not how I do things.
So how do I cope? When everything seems so easy for me yet so tough and boring for the child? Here are the successful steps that I do so I can overcome my student's boredom and get him engaged.
1. Acknowledge. After I acknowledged that my art student is bored with the portrait drawing project then I was able step back and open myself up to other possibilities. Accept what is real for your child at that moment. When he says “it’s boring”, then acknowledge that he is bored.
2. Let go. Many of us get caught up in our own way of doing things and this hinders in seeing other ways of accomplishing a task. For me, I would get stuck in how wonderful and brilliant my art project is. And so in order for me to move forward, I have to let that go.
3. Be interested. Now that you are not stuck with “your idea”, be interested in your child. Be curious and get to know what do they want to do. They may say “I want to play (insert your child’s favourite game)”. Now take this information and see how this can be incorporated into the activity. After having a talk with my student, I learned that one of the things he really like are animals. And so I went to pursue that topic.
4. Remember your commitment. I love this part. Remembering my commitment to my students always creates wonderful solutions if ever I’m stuck in a certain situation. I’m committed for them to achieve breakthroughs in their art classes not only in learning new skills in drawing or painting but breakthroughs in their confidence, patience and resilience as well.
5. Be willing to take a new path. After hearing that my student likes animals and insects, I stopped the portrait drawing project and we started a new journey together. He then became more and more interested and invested in the subjects that we study in art class. (He gets to pick what animals he would like to draw).
So how did my student do after I changed his activities? His drawing skills has taken off! Once he started drawing and painting animals that he likes and he chose, he showed more patience and resilience. He became more courageous in trying new ideas and ways to use art mediums. And the best shift that I have observed is his language… instead of saying things like “This is so hard” or “My brother draws really well” to “This is easy. :)”
This is my art student's drawing of a beaver in the forest before any art coaching and intervention.
After intervention, he completely opens up his mind to his world. A world that is so interesting and intriguing to him. Art represents a way for him to look closely at the things that are fascinating to him. Art is no longer a drag or a concept. Its fun, and an important tool for Gabriel to understand the world around him.
Students learns best when they are engaged, this is what I believe.
Today, my student tackles perspective drawings and still life drawing with so much resilience (he does not give up and no longer becomes grouchy.) He accepts my challenge and turns them into his mini games where he competes to find his own answers.
Listen intensely to every child, to make a difference in their learning experience and have them love learning, exploring and creating Art. Beyond Art, I hope they bring this spirit into every other aspect of their lives and become adventurous learners!
Questions: How do you engage your kids when they are super-bored with what they're doing? And when you see them enjoying and engaged in their activities, how do you feel?
Let us know in the comments below. :)