Every now and then we receive a student with exceptional artistic ability; a student whose talent and vision goes above and beyond that of the rest of the class. While teaching an advanced version of your regular lesson each class period may not be a viable option, you do want to challenge these students and to nurture their talent. Below are five ways to keep your gifted art students learning and growing:
1. Encourage further exploration.
Ask your gifted student to research an artist associated with an upcoming lesson, including information about the artist’s life, style, techniques, and various works. You may choose to have the student present the information to the class or just to use it as insight as he or she works through your planned lesson.
2. Help gifted students learn as they go.
Ask them to keep an art journal to jot down notes about the lesson they worked on, what worked and what didn’t, preferred materials, etc. Review challenges they encountered and what they learned.
3. Challenge them with new materials and techniques.
When possible, provide more advanced materials for your gifted students and, once the rest of the class is up and running, introduce them to more difficult techniques than the rest of the class is using on the same project.
4. Pursue mentoring opportunities.
Consider pairing your gifted artist with a local artist who can work one-on-one with your student and provide a unique, experienced perspective. You also might suggest after-school tutoring (perhaps you offer this service yourself?) or art classes—your student can use your class time to work on projects they have been assigned from their outside lessons.
5. Provide external creative outlets.
Provide your gifted students with information about local art camps, community art groups and events, and local art exhibits and encourage them to participate. The more exposure they have to different styles and the more opportunities they have to practice their craft, the better.
6. Involve the gifted student’s parents.
Make sure they are aware of their child’s artistic talent. An in-person meeting to discuss the student’s work and their talent is best, but a phone call or email will also do. Ask the student’s parents to help you nurture their child’s talent by encouraging at-home projects and research, exposing them to museums and cultural events, and enrolling them for additional art classes, camps, and programs.
Teaching gifted artists is an honor and a responsibility. With a bit of planning, you can provide lessons that challenge them as well as the rest of the class. Have you had a gifted artist in your art room? What did you do to nurture their talent? Share your thoughts in the comments below.