During this uncertain time of COVID 19, where social distancing is becoming more of the rule than the exception, art organizations and artists are scrambling to find ways to stay connected with their communities. This has led to organizations, like The River, offering online classes via Zoom and other social media platforms. I was apprehensive with trying this different approach to teaching art, but after a few sessions, I quickly realized several benefits for both the participants, their families and myself, the teaching artist.
I noticed three main takeaways from my online teaching experience with The River and our participants.
1). Children participants are provided art engagement that helps with normalization and some familiarity with their extra-curricular activities which helps to reduce anxiety and provide a sense of structure.
2). Provides ongoing art training that encourages skill development while building self confidence and promotes communication and social skills.
3). Also promotes family engagement by providing parents with tools they can use with their child(ren) when not engaged with online programming.
The challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic have forced summer camps, libraries and museums and other organizations providing extra-curricular activities across the nation to take necessary steps to not only protect the safety of individuals, but address social-emotional needs of its most vulnerable students. I believe The River has adapted to this new platform for providing art programming in a creative and socially engaging way and has been a valuable experience for me as a teaching artist during these uncertain times.