Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sign of the Times: School Budget Cuts

The school my children attend has experienced significant budget issues and one way to deal with this has been to cut the number of school days this year. It is a troubling situation that leaves a parent wondering if their children can continue to excel academically and stay on track with fewer days in the classroom. Fortunately, both of my kids are doing fine so far, but it is certainly something to keep an eye on.


In the meantime...what can I do to provide not only entertainment during time off, but help them learn something as well? One disappointment I have in the school curriculum is the lack of art education. As you may guess, art was one of my favorite subjects when I was a kid and I can't imagine what I would be doing today if these classes had not been available. Drawing, photography, painting, ceramics, sculpture, wood working...great stuff! So in the absence of these classes in their school, I'm setting up art school today at home.


Isabella got a head start while Max spent some time at a friend's house.


Once home he joined in...but if this was a school classroom I'd say he was looking to cheat!




All you really need to do is set out a variety of supplies, introduce a few ideas and let the kids take it from there.


A phone book to tear pages from, magazines to cut images out of, decoupage glue, paint, brushes, scissors, water, pastels, paper towels. Just sit back and assist if asked. Clean water, a towel?




It's interesting to see what captures their attention: nail polish inspires Isabella...


...and big globs of paint gets Max going.




The result of today's "lesson"?


Mixed Media...


...and A Collage. 
(Inspired by our recent trip to the Picasso exhibit.)

I didn't think they were paying attention to my ramblings about this and that technique seen in the art we were viewing at the show, but apparently they were. Enough to try a few things themselves.

Now please, I'm not saying I have a couple Picasso's on my hands. But they had a lot of fun...and I think they learned something as well.

60 comments :

  1. I love it! I also took my son to art museums when he was a kid. He ended up being a good math student and more of a left left brainer, but I tried.

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  2. I've never heard of schools shortening the school year. Oh goodness! Hope that's not coming here!

    Well, the artwork is great. I have my share of "globby" painters here, as well.

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  3. I applaud you for exposing your children to art. Art allows a mind to freely think and be creative...it is fabulous! I have a bin with three drawers that we tuck into our foyer closet and it is packed with art supplies. My children pull it out daily to create their interpretations of art. You are a good mom!

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  4. Art is so important. Isabella and Max both are very creative. Nice to see them have this outlet and to create to fine pieces!

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  5. I was never exposed to art or took art classes as a child. I regret that now.
    But I can paint a wall or a piece of furniture like nobody's business.

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  6. Art classes are usually the first to go around here. This is such an inspiring post and you are right. Where would we be without these classes growing up?

    -Rene

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  7. While my hubby is a teacher and we know first-hand about budget cuts, I dont think Ive ever heard of shortening the school year either.How many days do they take off the calendar? its a scary thought!
    XO,
    Sarah

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  8. That sounds like so much fun. It would be hard to have less days at school.

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  9. I find it interesting, the couple comments about not ever hearing about cut days to address budget issues. I went into the school calender to count days off this year, (but it was taking too much time!) I think 15 days have been cut this school year. That really is quite a lot!
    Janell

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  10. Ok youre scaring me-Im an art teacher...Ive always had art, I cant believe they've cut it out completely! Thank you for posting this-LOVE to see children's art!

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  11. Wow as a teacher-to-be it seems really strange to shorten school? Art is such a difficult subject to teach and here in Australia a school can elect to have a specialty arts teacher and will have a lesson a two a week in an arts room.

    Rhiannan xxx

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  12. Yes, I was talking to the kids about this, they don't go to any room for special art classes. Art projects are injected into different units of study in the classroom and a lot of drawing is done with writting assignments, but while there are still music classes they have no special art classes. It is very disappointing to be sure!

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  13. I am putting this on the top of my list for spring. I have the perfect spot in the garage that could become a permanent art center, thanks!

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  14. Bravo, Mom!! I do so miss those art sessions with my own kids (teens behind screens now!), but I have beautiful works from each of them.
    Time well spent, Janell. :)

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  15. I taught middle school art for 4 years in the public school, and it was one of the most creative experiences of my life. I love seeing children create! I love the art your kids made, and the experience that they had will give them the freedom to continue to create. I'm so sorry art education (and music) are given such little priority these days. Teaching children to be creative will allow them to be the problem solvers of the world when they grow up. They and the rest of the world are missing so much! Good for you!

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  16. love that you did this with your kiddos!!

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  17. my kid's art are my favorite pieces out of all the artworks I've collected over the years...so cool that you are doing fun and creative projects with your kids to make up for what the school lacks...but ya know, it kind of should be that way...at least a little...we build such strong ties with our kids when we educate/create with them...
    maureen

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  18. Art, music, gym, languages ... all are just as important as reading, writing and math. There's a bill in the NH legislature that would cut all the "extras", which we know are not really extras, but important components of a good education. I really worry about the future of our country with all these education cuts ... it's a big reason why we decided to send our daughter to a private school this year.

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  19. I feel very lucky that my daughter goes to the school she goes to, we live in Indianapolis and she goes to a Catholic school and once kids enter high school they have to perform service hours to the community and alot of them elect to go to the elementary school to teach writing, art and music, we are also lucky that our music and art teacher have before and after school programs that they volunteer to do without pay. I'm also like you and expose my daughter to art and music, we listen to music all the time and are lucky to have the IMA very nearby, its fun to go to the modern art exhibit and listen to what she thinks of the artwork. I think there is nothing like a childs imagination and we should encourage it as much as possible, I only think it makes open minded and creative adults! (Your daughter is beautiful, oh that hair! And Max is as cute as they come!!)

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  20. I LOVE LOVE LOVE to see kid art at home - they did SO great - I'd say it was a day off of school that was worth it for your kids! Super job!

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  21. My son's favorite time at home too...crafting! I've been buying packages of canvases that are on hard boards at Hobby Lobby and they're easier to frame in cheaper frames since they don't require a thick frame! Something about giving your kids "real" paints too seems to inspire creativity even more too!

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  22. They're great! I'm always doing fun projects with my son. I figure if I get enough in while he's young (almost 3), it will stick with him forever. Here's a fun project we learned the other day: make colored ice cubes with food coloring and stick popsicle sticks in them, then when they freeze, "paint" with them on watercolor paper. Really cute results!

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  23. Wow! I've never heard of cutting school days to save money. Ohio is very strict. We're given 3-5 calamity (snow) days and once the district uses those, the kids have to make-up days on holidays or saturdays.
    Our school districts commonly use the "pay to play" move to deal with budget cuts.
    Isabella's and Max's projects turned out great! Kudos to you for nurturing their artistic development.

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  24. I love the creativity they have. They are both so different, but clearly very unique to the child. Love this idea!

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  25. I have heard this is going around all over the U.S. Schools are cutting back all over - it makes me wonder if one day they won't just do away with it and have parents do what they did back in the old days! lol. This art project looks super fun!

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  26. What a great mom you are in fostering their creativity. This will make a huge impact. What a shame that schools are cutting back days. Quite a sad statement on how our government values education.

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  27. Wow what beautiful art. We have been dealing with scary budget issues here in Seattle but it has not gotten to cutting days. We may lose our library, nurse and Special Ed teachers though, which is really scary. Our PTA auction is going to have to be very successful to fund their positions. It is really sad that our children and our future and having to deal with this.
    I think I might need to do an art day this week since they are off of school. Very good idea!

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  28. Janell these are wonderful!!! I love to children create and they need to create, it is so sad that the arts and music have been taken out of the schools. Where will you hang these masterpieces? KS

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  29. Wow, that is awful and so disappointing. The last thing we need to do is cut education. My girls went to private school until we bought a house, then we switched to public...major shock! The kids hated it and that's before budget cuts. I ended up homeschooling them. Hurray to you for picking up the slack.

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  30. This is awesome Janell and I was surprised to see Isabella looking all grown up. Funny to feel like I know your kids, huh?

    We've been doing a lot more arts and crafts at home since turning the TV off during the week. Even though mine are much younger I can still see the pride in their faces when they've completed their masterpiece! Thanks for sharing this!

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  31. A think art is use beneficial at any time of life, but probably most of all during childhood. Props to you for bringing it home. Just watched the documentary "Waiting for Superman" on the state of education in our nation. Highly recommend it.

    Love your blog. You're adorable!

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  32. Hi Janell ,

    My kids are grown up now they are in college and university student...
    But I was thinking of some summer school craft type activity for younger kids.. I like your this post very much... I am in search of ideas and about their implementation ... Thanks for sharing... your kids are darling...
    Hope you would like to spare a little bit of your time for my new post, it’s something different I hope you will enjoy …
    http://craftaworld.blogspot.com/
    Love
    Farah

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  33. Love this! It's a great idea for an oh-so-important area of education. I was lucky to grow up in a school district in a small university town that put a lot of value on arts and music education, and I've realized just how blessed I was.

    I think both the creations are fabulous, my boys are not quite to this stage in their artistic development but I sure am enjoying what they do produce. :)

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  34. I've heard of some schools talking about cutting days but we haven't had that happen here yet. I'm in a suburb of Dallas. It scares me to hear of all the cuts that are coming. My son's school is awesome and his specials include art, music and drama. I would hate to see that cut out. He also goes to a special art class at a studio by our house once a week after school.

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  35. I just went to orientation for Kidnder for my daughter next year and they may even have to cut their art program . . . at that age. Ughh. Kudos to you! We will be hosting art days here as well:) Love the "looking to cheat" caption. Too funny.

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  36. That's terrible that they are cutting days out of the school year. So glad your kids made good use of their time making art. I love that!

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  37. Good for you! I am a retired art teacher from the public school system. You are right...budget cuts effect art and music first. It's a shame as both teach skills far more than actual art and music. Abstract thinking is so necessary if we are to keep up with other nations in education. Keep up the good work at home...freedom of expression is very important.

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  38. Ugh, I know these budget cuts are killing me. The kids think it's great, not me.
    It feels like everytime we turn around they are out again. I think March 3 and 4th they are off as well. Crazy and sad.
    Luckily when it comes to art Jake got a teacher who is very inspired to instill art into classroom activities everyday. They just finished a Starry night!

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  39. I too find it sad that art is one of the first subjects to get cut! I loved art as a child and feel kids don't have enough time playing and experimenting with various mediums. Money is spent on technology but not art supplies. Tragic. I love buying canvasses for my kids to paint, etc I have a few framed and they are about to be hung up the stairwell for our own family gallery.

    When we lived in Virginia I volunteered at the school where through the GRACE art program we introduced an artist and the kids experimented in the style of the artist. So much fun! Check out the Greater Reston Art Center!

    Now living back in Canada, and I am a teacher, I try to integrate art into every subject. I am a firm believer that it is another form of communication, a universal language, a way of expressing oneself without using the written word.

    What a shame they cut valuable teaching time from your children! Hats off to you for using that time to educate your children instead of sitting them down in front of the TV!

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  40. Love the paintings! You're an awesome mom for supplementing. :)

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  41. Yes Melissa, mine are off again two days next week as well. I'm trying to figure out what activities to plan those days! I'll think of something! Janell

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  42. My boys were taught at home from late elementary grades through jr. high...We had art classes, visited museums, attended the symphony and opera, saw plays and participated in actor workshops, and were exposed to music of every kind. We also had cooking classes and played pool. With each activity, we covered all the basic education courses...and then some! Today my boys are well-rounded, well-read young men. Two of them are involved in areas of the music industry...and have their own businesses. The other is a wine expert and is planning his own business. You can really use those non-school days to teach your kids...Think outside the box!
    Jane (artfully graced)

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  43. Way to make lemonade out of lemons!

    I think cutting back on art programs is terrible. And in this country, where over a third of infants are obese, we are cutting P.E. classes too. So so sad!

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  44. That is so awful. In Canada the schools are Federally mandated to meet a target number of hours in order for the school year to be completed. So sad:(

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  45. I have never heard of schools doing this before. I really hope that never happens here. My son's school has a wonderful art program, and I'm constantly trying to decide what to keep and what to let go. Your children are blessed to have such a wonderfully talented mother. I just love watching kids create. It's like you can just see the wheels turning!

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  46. Hi Janell!

    My sister lives in a suburb of Atlanta and the budget cuts have resulted in days off from school for my nephews. It hasn't happened in Houston yet but I'm sure it will soon.

    I emailed my daughter's teacher last week and REQUESTED that she attend art class. I assumed it was available to all students but I guess I was wrong.

    Continue to inspire and encourage your kids to pursue art/music education.

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  47. Great ideas. My kids are home on mid-winter break (we also get a spring break). I too have been doing all kinds of crafts with them keeping them entertained. My blog party opens tonight at 8pm EST. Hope you stop by to join in the fun.

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  48. Looks great! We use this art site with our kids for our home schooling needs: www.deepspacesparkle.com

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  49. Simply wonderful. I love seeing parents be proactive when it comes to supplementing their children's education. You go girl! And you're children's canvases are perfect! ( I love Isabella's silly bandz...the girl's got style!)

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  50. What a great mom you are! What a great way to spend the afternoon...all together and being creative. I have some blank canvases waiting for a free day too...love your idea to include magazines and other supplies too.

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  51. I love a good old fashioned art project!

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  52. How fun, what a great project! Isabella is a girl after my own heart with her love for nail polish (: Tell her I like her blue nail polish in the pictures!

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  53. I missed this post:-(

    Love both of their work from the colors used in Isabella's to the way Max painting made me lean my head to the right to look at it! Your kids are very good at painting!

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  54. It's always wonderful to see the creative side of children being nurtured. Too bad your school, like so many others, doesn't have the money to do it as well. The arts always seem to get cut first unfortunately. I have several pieces of my children's artwork framed and hanging in our guest room. Looks like you have some wonderfully frame worthy art too!

    Kat :)

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  55. I love how you do so many art projects with the kids -- I agree that art education is SO important (I think all kids are naturally creative and just need the encouragement and confidence to keep it going) and it's a shame public schools have been forced to cut it (and music education for that matter).

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  56. What a great art lesson! I think you have two amazing artists on your hands!

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  57. I love this idea! Both of the kids did a great job and it looks like they really took pride in their masterpieces. :-)

    On the school front - I thought schools were required to have a certain number of days in the school year (thus the reason mine have to make up a day in April since we took one too many snow days!).

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  58. I love this post. Ultimately, we are always our kiddos best teachers!
    -{darlene}
    fieldstonehilldesign.com

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  59. I love what they did! We are experiencing huge cuts here (in AZ), too. They will go down to having Art once a week for 1/2 the year instead of once a week. I figure I can plan some fun projects at home to keep art alive!

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  60. Getting the canvases out now! I fogot I had loaded up on them. Cold rain + spring break do not go well together. Time to crank up some good music and get creative!

    I was actually looking all over Lexington for the new book, Water Paper Paint by Heather Smith Jones. Then googled it and saw your blog post!

    Their work is just great! Way to go mom!

    Best,
    Lisa

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