How To Go Virtual For Artists Working with Kids

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how we interact with others, how we teach, how we consume technology, and how we learn. In the past, art education with children has involved hands-on teaching, fruitful collaboration, and constructive feedback. The arts education field has been forced to use the new virtual landscape like never before. Moving forward, we must come up with creative ways to teach and interact with children as to enable an enriching virtual learning experience.


What are some strategies to cope with the changes?

To shift towards the new virtual landscape of teaching, the first step is to think about how and where to run a virtual classroom. Zoom offers the opportunity for teachers to hold lessons through video calls. At the start of the pandemic, the platform quickly aligned itself with company, university, and classroom needs. This platform offers multiple tools for flexible learning, including Break Out rooms, a Whiteboard, the ability to Record and Transcribe meetings, and so forth. The multifaceted features of Zoom allow for teachers to encourage Auditory, Visual, and Kinesthetic learning. 


Finding ways for children to continue their creative pursuits despite stay at home orders is a great challenge, yet it is also an opportunity for collaboration and growth. Yaymaker is a virtual platform specifically designed for artists hosting virtual events. The platform allows artists to host their own events, entering a larger network of creators whose goal is to share resources and strategies for virtual art making and events. The platform offers a free trial for the first 60 days and artists may subscribe after for $35/month. Other online platforms for hosting virtual events include Google Meets, Facebook Live, Youtube Live, Instagram Live, and Skype. Another solution for artists is to host private lessons to work one on one with students. For artists interested in creating a community of followers, Patreon allows followers to pay for a monthly membership to become an active participants with access to exclusive content, community, and insight into creative process. 


In addition to platforms for hosting live events, there are other resources available for artists working with kids. One idea is to host a virtual gallery, asking kids of all ages to submit their own work for viewing. One artist Kamel Mennour opened a gallery in Paris featuring the work of Parisian youth pondering the question: “what will our future look like?” during the pandemic. A gallery event allows teachers to work towards a goal with their students while encouraging them to use their imagination to ask questions and allowing the students to feel heard. Art Steps is a great platform for artists to conduct a virtual gallery. The website allows artists to curate their own gallery experience, complete with designing the space, adding artwork, and creating a guided tour. Another idea to target kids creativity while at home is through coloring books. Coloring books can be made for all ages and those purchased online are downloadable through PDF files.


What services can be helpful?

There are plenty of online resources for kids to access that are both engaging and educational. The American Museum of Natural History offers an interactive website where kids can choose a certain “ology” (study of) and explore different topics of interests. Museums around the country are adapting to current circumstances to offer virtual exhibitions, showcases, and other resources for online learning. The Tech Interactive offers lessons and activities designed to target problem solving skills and is suitable for at home learning. Art Bar provides several interactive, creative, and educational art opportunities to keep children engaged in learning while at home during quarantine. The Drawing Lab offers virtual drawing classes and challenges for kids. Scholastic Learn at Home offers a variety of fun and educational activities for children and educators and includes resources for children of all ages. Other innovative services include The Design Museum, where kids are instructed to design their own structures and objects with everyday crafts, enhancing their creativity.


Youtube can be used as an educational alternative to television and has many popular channels geared towards children and education. Some of these include:


Additional Resources For Helping Your Child Through the Pandemic

It may be challenging to explain the realities of a pandemic to your child. The AACP has several resources that will help you talk to children or teens about the disease and manage stress in the house. This site also contains helpful links to activities that you can do with your child, including virtual tours and ways to get them away from screen. The Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) offers additional resources on how to help children through the pandemic with virtual workbooks, coloring books, guidebooks, and lists of activities that you and your child can do.