Open Letter to Parents

This is a copy of the letter I posted on my school website (2019 – 2020 school year) to inform parents of my teaching practice and philosophy in art education.

Letter on Website: Teaching Artistic Behavior – A Choice Based Art Education Approach

When I first started teaching art I was lucky to have so many resources on the Internet to help me formulate my teaching practice.  Tons of articles, art teacher blogs, YouTube videos, and Pinterest entries are easily accessible with simple keystrokes. After a while, I could discriminate from the information and find items I feel are the most beneficial for students.

After a few years of learning about art education and refining my lessons, I feel most comfortable with two approaches: direct teaching and Teaching Artistic Behavior (TAB). The idea behind TAB is that all children are natural artists.  Students should be allowed the freedom to explore and create; be given time to reflect on their work to help develop their craft; and have a variety of materials at their disposal for learning. In addition, students should also be allowed to determine the purposes of their work.

In the TAB art room students have an open studio model, but are given mini lessons depending on interests to ensure artistic skills are developed.  There are a lot of centers and a lot of movement.  It is rare to find the teacher at the front of the classroom.  The students are encouraged to visit all the centers throughout the year.  It is a highly reflective way to learn art education and something I have found to be highly successful with my students simply because the students drive their learning journey.  I have found students to be very responsible with the materials, highly engaged, and gaining confidence in their abilities because they are treated as responsible independent learners.

In my classroom, I have the following centers:

  • Collage
  • Fiber Arts
  • 3-Dimensional Sculpture
  • Drawing
  • Origami
  • Painting (both Tempera and Watercolor)
  • Printmaking
  • Art History

In addition, I also use the Studio Habits of Mind developed by the Harvard’s Project Zero Research Center. This research center explores topics in education such as deep thinking, understanding, intelligence, creativity, and ethics.  The studio habits are:

studio habits.png

As students make these habits part of their everyday practice, they become more mindful. These habits can be carried into other areas of their academic, social, and emotional development.

I am still working on creating a balance between direct instruction and TAB.  It really comes down to what is the most appropriate approach for each child.  I want to help students find their voice, to express themselves, and to solve problems.  I want students to ultimately develop into creative and caring human beings.  I invite you to help me in this journey.  Make some art, make a mess, and have fun with your child as they create.   Please feel free to contact me at with any questions or concerns you may have.


This year I would like to invite parents into my room to participate in the learning activities with their child. I would love to hear from people who have done this so I can make this experience a successful one.

Happy start of the year, everyone!


Author: Sonia Chapman

I am an art teacher, living in the Middle East, following my passion for art, teaching little children about the finer things in life, and loving every bit of it.

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