We ALL Need an Art Club

My son is a pretty good artist.  He's no Monet (or Manet), but he's better than I'll ever be.  (That's not saying much).  Most importantly he really enjoys art.  He enjoying drawing, creating dioramas, etc.  I'll always be proud to know that he was chosen last year (as a "graduating" 4th grader) to have one of his pieces selected as one that will be hung in the elementary school in perpetuity.

Now in middle school there is an art club that meets once a week after school. My son has never been much of a joiner.  However, art club is not a "formal" club in the sense of the word.  You can join at any time.

I didn't want to push him into it.  Art just happened to be the first class that he had in his "cycle"  (There are 6 cycle classes in the school year:  art, technology, computers, music, health and advisory.)  Since he was having art every day, I didn't push the club issue.  From the mid-marking period comments he received from his art teacher, I could tell that he not only was doing well in the class, but loved it.

His art cycle ended last week.  So I broached the subject of joining art club over the weekend.  He immediately said no for two reasons:

1.     He would be joining "mid-stream" and he didn't like that.
2.     There was no time; he had too much homework

I knew I would be able to overcome objection number 1.  I knew that art club was more of a drop in when you can kind of thing.  A place where kids could have the opportunity to be creative when they wanted to.  And I confirmed this all with the art teacher.  I was able to show my son an email from the art instructor which said the club was "open" every Monday afternoon for an hour and students were welcome any time and could stay for up to an hour.

Objection 2 was much more difficult.  It was also the one that broke my heart.  As I have posted before the transition from elementary school to middle school has been difficult.  Everything that he knew and was comfortable with has changed.  New teachers, different classes, lockers, rotating schedules and, of course, a lot more homework.  The school day is longer, as is the walk home.  All of this leads up to play time/me time "lost."  Homework is (understandably) one of the things he likes the least and he wants to get it over and done with so he can move onto things that he enjoys (like building with Legos and playing outside with his friends). Getting home at 3:30, it takes him about an hour and a half to do his homework.  That does not include practicing his instrument, review of foreign language flash cards and logging 20+ minutes of reading each day.  Adding in those items and you've got another 40 or so minutes "lost."  He didn't want to lose any more time, even to something he really enjoyed.

We've been stressing how important it is to focus at school and at home.  We've repeatedly said how he needs to do his best; on homework, on quizzes and tests and on projects.  What we have failed to do is to remind him that in addition to all of that he needs to follow his passion.  While he needs to work harder on math because it's subject that does not come easy for him, he also needs to let his creativity out.  We all have one thing (or maybe more) that we excel at and enjoy.  While we can't focus on that all the time, everyone needs to find the time to explore and enjoy that passion.

I tried repeatedly over the weekend to stress how although homework and schoolwork were important, so was spending time doing what you loved, even if it meant having less "me" time and doing homework later in the day. He kept saying no.  I felt as though I had failed as a parent.

Then just as school let out the other day, I got a call from my son.  He wanted to let me know that he had decided to try art class and that he would be home later than usual.  What changed his mind?  I don't know.  Was it my pep talks?  The fact that he saw the results of his hard work on his last math quiz?  Or that he'd worked on and finished all of his projects over the weekend (even those that weren't due for a week or so)?  It doesn't matter.

What matters is that when he got home he was happy and had two drawings that he was extremely proud of.  (So proud that he wants to frame one and put it in his room.)  He was full of energy and pride.  He was the son that had been missing for quite some time.

While he might not be able to attend every Monday, I know he will be going back.  The experience was just what he needed.  It was a reminder to us all that although homework and studying is important, having "me" time is important to.  Doing what you love and what makes you feel good is a stress buster.  It's a necessary part of life,  for us all.  We all need our own "art club."


  1. For this, "What we have failed to do is to remind him that in addition to all of that he needs to follow his passion. While he needs to work harder on math because it's subject that does not come easy for him, he also needs to let his creativity out.", you both deserve a great big smooch from across the pond....

    wait for it.... smooch, smooch, smooch, smooch


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