Jen Katz, one of our Early Childhood instructors and Summer Camp Counselors at Discovery, is an UWS mother, teacher, and small business owner with over a decade of experience working with young children. Over the weekend, I connected with her to chat a little bit about her background and the brand new Discovery class she is teaching this fall, Books Spark Art.
TC: When did you first begin teaching art, and what inspires you as an educator?
JK: I began teaching art to children after receiving my master’s degree in Art Education. I always loved the freedom that I felt as an art student and the lack of boundaries in making art.
TC: How do you see children learn and grow as they express themselves through art?
JK: I believe that from the very beginning of life, we all have an artistic voice. Visual arts is only one way to artistically express ourselves. Very young children are uninhibited and not afraid of making mistakes. This is the best time of life to be exposed to a variety of art media. When teaching art class, I often marvel at how different each child is at such an early age. There will be the child that takes just a dab of paint on their brush for an entire painting, while another will feel the need to fill the entire paper with paint. A child’s confidence and comfort level with art media will grow as they receive continual exposure to working with the materials.
TC: Tell me more about your new class at Discovery, called Books Spark Art. How have you gone about shaping this incredibly fun and unique program?
JK: I’m excited to teach this class because it makes art for little ones more meaningful. Their favorite stories come to life as they are given a creative way to respond to the literature. For example, after reading “Harold and the Purple Crayon” by Crocket Johnson, we will make an exploration drawing with purple crayons on mural paper on the wall. The curriculum has a dual focus on both children’s literature and art exploration. We are not looking necessarily for a beautiful work of art as the end product of each class but rather to provide the children with a safe space to explore a variety of art media and an opportunity to get messy!