Beyond the Classroom: Video Art Classes for Lil’ Picassos

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It’s OK to admit it: If you’re like most parents, you rely on showing your kids a little screen time while you make lunch or catch up on work email. What if, instead of watching another cartoon or playing Xbox, your kiddos could spend time online learning something new? Say hello to Thrive Online Art Classes. Based in Seattle, Thrive founder Theresa Harris raised more than $30,000 from a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund her video art classes for kids.

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Tell us about the instructor…
The mother of two boys, Harris has been teaching kids to draw for the past 12 years. She’s seen first-hand how learning to draw can boost the creativity and self-assurance of budding artists. Harris was already teaching popular brick-and-mortar Thrive classes in Ravenna and Madison Valley. But she dreamt of introducing a program to also reach kids living in parts of the world without means to a quality education in the arts.

How did Theresa come up with the idea?
Theresa’s ‘ah-ha moment’ came by watching Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk titled “Schools Kill Creativity.” “Sir Robinson argues that schools are educating people out of their creative capacity, while at the same time art programs are underfunded or being cut altogether,” Harris explains. “With so many kids not having access to art education, I decided to package our program into an online format so I could bring what we do to kids everywhere.”

At what age can we introduce our kiddo to a class?
Kiddos are usually ready to start Thrive’s Beginner Program at age six. “If your child loves to draw, providing them with formal instruction is a great way for them to learn the basics and take off from there, just like you would take lessons to learn a musical instrument,” Harris says. She explains that by age eight kids can often be in a good spot to infuse more sophistication into their artwork. “If they learn how to get their ideas onto paper, they’ll have it for a lifetime,” she says. “Alternatively, if kids are not taught how to draw, they often become discouraged and lose interest or give up altogether.” Even if your little ones are more obsessed with soccer balls than coloring books, they can still use the drawing programs to improve small motor skills and cultivate a better sense of self.

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What do the classes include?
Each of Thrive’s online classes include half a dozen 30 to 40 minute video art lessons that meet or exceed guidelines set by the National Standards for Arts Education and can be accessed on desktops, laptops, tablets or smartphones. Thrive’s website also offers parent resources like coaching videos and tips for setting up a creative space. Kids can display their art on an online portfolio and view visual examples for inspiration.

Coming soon!
“As a parent myself, I know it can be tricky to facilitate art projects at home, and my goal is to make it really doable for parents,” Harris says. Thrive’s Intermediate Program launches next month. It focuses on applying creative problem-solving skills and developing oil pastel and watercolor methods. An Advanced Program for kids ages 9 to 12 is also coming soon, as well as video lessons based on a range of topics, like ‘Learn to Draw Horses’ and ‘How to Draw People’.

Want to check out Thrive for yourself? Click here to try a free class.

What do you think of Thrive’s new online art classes? Do you think you will give them a try? Let us know in a comment below.

–Sara Billups

all photos courtesy of Thrive facebook page