10 Great Ways to Encourage Your Gifted Young Artist

5. Let your artist follow his natural inclinations as he draws—if he is doing it naturally, just let him keep creating. If you put your child in lots of classes or over-encourage his talent, he may lose interest. Just let your artist enjoy doing what he loves best, and he will find his own passion.

6. Expose your young artist to a variety of styles and media. Some gifted students have the ability to stay extremely focused, which can be a good thing, but as they get older they will tend to stick with one thing almost to the point of obsession (which actually can be a good thing if you are raising the next Picasso, Degas, or Mary Cassatt!).

7. Give verbal encouragement that goes beyond simple admiration. Communicate interest in your child’s choices of colors or techniques that are especially pleasing to the eye. Encourage him to articulate his reasoning for choosing a certain color, using a certain brush stroke technique, etc. Taking a genuine interest in your child’s artistic process lets him know that he has an attentive audience and also encourages him to go deeper and wider in his own artistic explorations. Communicating your interest in his love of creating artwork is perhaps the most important thing you can do as a parent.

8. Find a mentor. Ask around at local art clubs to find out whether there might be a retired person willing to mentor your child. Artists often enjoy the company of other artists, and your child may enjoy having a companion to paint or draw with—and learn from.

9. Consider investing in video lessons. There is a DVDprogram called Atelier (www.homeschoolart.com) that introduces the student to a variety of painting and drawing styles. Something like this is more useful than a video series that showcases only one particular artist; those should be avoided. You will want your young artist to see and practice an array of styles, not learn merely to copy a single artist’s style. If he is talented, this will come easily, but it may mask the development of his own style.

10. Publicly showcase your child’s work! If you want to attract some attention for your young artist, contact local libraries, city halls, civic centers, and even restaurants to see if they showcase the work of particular artists. Usually it involves you doing all the matting, hanging, etc., but this type of encouragement goes a long way for most gifted children.

There are also 4-H fairs and seasonal art fairs to be considered. Find out early about what events are scheduled in the future, as well as requirements for entry. This will give your child plenty of time to prepare his displays and even decide if he wants to offer pieces for sale.

If you feel a need to downplay your child’s work, to keep him from becoming too “prideful,” remember that gifted children are often extremely self-critical. What looks great to you may seem lacking to him. Honest praise and encouragement can help build the confidence your child is looking for. Offering to help him share his work with the community goes beyond a desire to gather fleeting compliments; it can give a child a real reason for producing his art—an audience.

These practical suggestions are a compilation of ideas offered by parents who share the hopes, joys, and concerns that come with raising gifted children in our email group, which has more than seven hundred members. If you would like to join a safe-haven group for Christian parents of gifted children, you are welcome to join us! Click here for more information.

Heather Idoni lives in Michigan, where she is married to her husband of twenty-five years. They have graduated two of their five sons, aged 11 to 21, all home educated from birth. Her business/ministry is Beloved Books, best known for reviving the Christ-centered Sugar Creek Gang audio series. Go to www.familyclassroom.net to sign up for her free E-Newsletter, The Homeschooler’s Notebook.


Copyright, 2013. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine, TOS Annual Print 2013. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

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