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Loving Swans by Srinidhi Iyer

Choosing the "right" class…

THIS IS THE ONE QUESTION NEARLY EVERYONE ASKS. And, while it's easy to answer in some regards, it's quite tricky in others. Here are the things we, and you, may want to consider.

1. Child age & gender


AGE IS A MAJOR FACTOR in choosing the correct class level. This is particularly true of young children under the age of 10. Age is an excellent predictor of ability to understand foundation concepts of drawing.

Gender is also notable since young girls may be more verbal and intellectually prepared than boys who sometimes lag slightly behind. Conversely, boys may be more physically engaged with their environments and may be equal to, or more advanced than girls in their ability to understand spatial relationships.

All of these age discrepancies begin to equalize by the time children are around eight to ten years of age.

2. Aptitudes


AS CHILDREN GROW parents typically observe behaviors that indicate stronger and weaker aptitudes. Some kids like puzzles or math or insects, and others like storytelling, sports or drawing. Children who demonstrate a notable lack of interest or confidence in art may not be good candidates to fast-track into a drawing class. They are likely to be much more successful if allowed to wait until they've reached pre-teen age before they begin a class. They will likely do much better in that situation having reached a higher degree of maturity. Kids who like to draw and do so independently are much more likely to do well in a class even at a young age. However the caveat is that children who draw independently but resist guidance or pre-determined subject matter may completely balk at the guided class presentation offered at ActonArt.

3. Developmental cycles


NOT INCLUDING GROWTH SPURTS children develop physically in a fairly smooth and somewhat predictable manner. However, mentally and psychologically they are like the wildest rollercoasters ever built! They cycle through periods of remarkable learning and growth (equilibrium), followed by periods of regression and stagnation (disequilibrium). We have observed children who at the peak of their equilibrium cycle are nearly prodigies, making art that is impressive for their age. Then that same child two months later is unable to maintain that quality of work and seems to have forgotten much of what they previously understood. It is this reason alone that we are very cautious about moving children up levels. All of our younger students are following this cyclic pattern of increasing/decreasing ability as they are growing up.
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The timeline shown above is not representative of every child. Variation of ages at peaks and lows, and duration of cycles are common.
Our recommended age ranges for different levels are coordinated with the content presented in classes. We know from prior experience that many students who are having great success with their project artwork may begin to decline as a result of the cyclic stages of development. It's completely normal and expected. We pay particular attention when the time comes to move students up levels since they are moving to more challenging, frequently faster pace classes that can easily overwhelm a student who is on the down-cycle of development. Holding a child back will do no harm, but moving a child forward too soon can damage their identification with art and overall self-esteem.

4. Personality


SOME KIDS are cheerful and extroverted, while others are reserved and quiet. Personality plays a big part in how children relate to the world around them. ActonArt classes are designed for children who can focus and be engaged by a visual-spatial-creative challenge. Asking a child who needs a lot of movement, physical challenges and verbal interaction to sit for a hour or more in a quiet, paced class may simply be too much to handle.
Every child is different and the information above may not provide you with answers to all questions. Please feel free to contact us for assistance. info@actonart.com or 978-266-1600