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Big Draw: Art Lessons for Kids at Home

Your kid may not be spending as much time doing artwork in kindergarten or first grade, so brush up on how to inspire her after school.
child painting

I have no fewer than 527 large-format watercolor creations, all abstract, ? la Kandinsky. But they are the work of a slightly more obscure artist: my daughter, Lydia, whose preschool was equipped with a trio of easels. She never passed the paints without picking up a brush. However, by the next year, she practically went into retirement, except for an occasional creation from a 30-minute Wednesday class.

Welcome to kindergarten and first grade, where art tends to fade into the background as reading, math, and science dominate the school day. "Most school kids do art projects just once or twice a week, and thousands of elementary schools across the country are even eliminating art from the curriculum because of budget cuts," says Eileen Prince, a longtime art specialist at the Sycamore School, in Indianapolis, and the author of Art Matters. "If your child relished painting, drawing, and crafts in preschool, she's probably going to be disappointed by how little time she spends on them in elementary school." To fill in the gap for your budding Picasso, try these simple tricks for engaging her at home.