Sunday, September 2, 2012

Drawing and Children

As the school year begins many elementary school children feel pressure in their art classes when it comes to drawing. When my son was in first grade he had a homework assignment to create a mobile based on elements of a favorite picture book. He chose "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." He carefully set out to interpret the illustrations of Felicia Bond, with what I perceived as charm and attention to detail, and together we added thread to his cut out drawings and attached them to a coat hanger. His teacher hung the mobiles around the classroom. A few days later I thought to ask him how all the mobiles looked. He replied that all the drawings were MUCH better than his. Were my feelings as a parent affecting my judgement? I happened to be in his classroom soon after and immediately checked out these mobiles. What I instantly realized was that many of the other characters had clearly been TRACED, and very likely by the hand of the parent. I felt bad for the children who were made to feel that their own drawings would not measure up. Children's drawings are a delightful look into the way they see the world. Art, in my opinion, should be full of choice and personal interpretation, and hopefully children are given these opportunities in school and at home.


  1. Sadly, I saw the same thing when our girls were in school, and ended up homeschooling to get them away from that and worse.
    I applaud you for your honesty in teaching your child to do his own work. We are outnumbered maybe, but our kids know we aren't cheaters.
    Have a great week!

  2. When I was in high school, my stepmother made me do my 1st grade brother's homework. I was pissed off that I'd have to stop my homework and do these assignments for him, and it really bugged me that even when I did a crap job, it was still better than what I assumed the other six year olds had done.

    She made me do it for two reasons:

    1-it was easier than fighting with him for a couple of hours.
    2-all the other parents did it, and she didn't want my brother to be left behind.

    I was shocked at the amount of homework my brother brought home (he's ten years younger than I am) and the in-depth nature of that homework. He was expected to not only do the practice writing pages and reading that I had been assigned, but he had to do several workbook pages per name along with a variety of "large" art projects (in second grade he had to build a model of a fort, in first grade he had to do one shadow box a week to match up with the books he read, etc.).

    I think a lot of parents do their childrens' homework because it really does take up a significant amount of time. I only had homework one or two times per week (other than reading, but that never felt like homework to me). The projects my brother had assigned each night would take me 10-30 minutes to do. I imagine it would take far longer for a kid.