Part of our“Why Artsonia? Because…” series
Families are getting involved in Art Education (2)
Old T.V. shows depict the days when a family would sit down at the 5pm dinner table, each person recapping the day, sharing stories and supporting one another. Now, fast forward to the present. We certainly hope that there are still homes enjoying consistent family meals and spending quality time around the dinner table, however, it seems that the reality of today is much different.
Family life today varies greatly from household to household. Some parents/guardians might not always be in the same household. They might not work the same shifts. They might be overseas. And the list goes on. How then, do families get the chance to connect with one another? Phones? Texts? Emails? Yes, today’s technology provides ample ways for families to connect, but did you realize that the Artsonia gallery is one of them? Of course, we’re not a social media site nor are we just a discussion forum or chatroom. Instead, Artsonia is a platform that allows families to make meaningful connections with kids through their artwork.
An individual artist’s gallery on Artsonia encourages families to take an active role in a child’s art education. Of course, the families can see the finished artwork and admire the handiwork, but there are also ways to connect with the artists themselves. With the help of a teacher or parent, artists can submit a personal statement on each piece of artwork. What a great way for parents to encourage their child’s creativity – actually sit down and talk about the artwork as you view it in the gallery! Finish up by posting the statement for all the world to read! Relatives who can’t simply sit down at the dinner table with the artist can now find out what inspired the piece or just get a closer look into what the artist was trying to accomplish.
Each artist’s gallery includes a guestbook. Here, family members can leave comments with words of encouragement or praise for the artist. Some relatives will even leave questions for the artists, trying to get a deeper meaning or explanation about the piece. These comments aren’t posted for the artist or public viewing without parental review, leading to yet another way that parents are getting directly involved! Best of all, it’s a very simple yet meaningful way for a child to feel supported and encouraged – knowing family and friends are admiring his/her own personal creations.
Art teachers are the first to notice what an impact Artsonia has on the parents. Melissa, a teacher in Washington, stumbled upon Artsonia a few years ago when she was attempting to find an easy way to create a digital art portfolio. She published 1 piece of artwork from each 3rd grader as a trial run. Within two weeks, she was overwhelmed with responses from parents. Suddenly, they wanted more artwork online and not just from the 3rd graders, but from the siblings in other grades. They wanted to know why the project done yesterday wasn’t yet showing in the gallery today. They wanted to know if they could help speed up the process. It quickly became apparent to Melissa that this was much more than just a way to keep an online portfolio for her students — for the first time ever, she had parents enthused and asking to be volunteers in the ART room!
School communities certainly vary, but many Artsonia teachers would agree that parents don’t intentionally avoid the art room. Teachers felt that prior to Artsonia, they just didn’t have the right tool to make a more meaningful connection with parents. Take-home slips and monthly school newsletters just weren’t cutting it. Now, teachers see a significant increase in parental involvement. Many of them check the school’s statistics on a regular basis to see how many new comments have been posted, or making note of how many parents have registered an active account on Artsonia. Others write to Artsonia, sharing comments or emails from parents who have seen a new confidence or sense of self-worth in their child, thanks to being a “published artist” in the school gallery.
Lastly, teachers who choose to use Artsonia also see an increase in parental support as it pertains to fundraising for arts education. Artsonia school galleries provide a way for teachers to show first-hand what the students are learning and accomplishing on a regular basis. This “visual” helps raise awareness in terms of supplies, materials, resources and technology needed to provide students with a quality art education. Through Artsonia’s online giftshop (which provides 20% back to schools), teachers have been able to literally save their art programs when budgets were threatening to cut all funding. Teachers note that more families are coming forward, requesting that funds be allocated back to the art program. Now that they have a better understanding of what students are doing and the value of keeping arts in their child’s education, they are more willing to show financial support.
As research has proven time and time again, getting parents or guardians involved in a child’s education is of utmost importance. While so many educators – regardless of curriculum - search for new ways to encourage parent participation or involvement, Artsonia is proud to provide Art Educators with a safe, educational platform that bridges connections between parents, students and the art room. And, with any luck, when families around the globe do gather around the dinner table for meals and celebrations, there will be a little more creativity thrown into their conversations this year.