A Letter to My Students’ Parents

Parents can be the best advocates you will have. They can also create some of the biggest struggles you will face. Many times I have thought about writing an open and honest letter to them. Today I did.

hand writing a letter

Dear Parents,

Hi. I am Mrs. Carlisle, your child’s art teacher, and I want to tell you how excited I am to teach your child during the upcoming school year. Because I am the art teacher, I will be guiding your child on a creative voyage. I will be able to see sides of their personality that the regular classroom teacher may never see. I will witness them create solutions to problems rather than regurgitate rote answers. I will watch him or her struggle with tough concepts and we will celebrate their mastery. It will be amazing.

What Can You Do to Help Your Child Succeed in Art Class? A Few Suggestions:

 

1. Please don’t tell your child, “I can’t even draw a stick figure” or “I was never good at art.”

The truth is you can draw a stick figure. You can draw more than you give yourself credit for. I am sorry that somewhere on your creative voyage someone made you feel less than confident in your abilities. Please don’t do the same to your child.

2. Please don’t expect your son or daughter to have a 100% in art class because “it’s just art class.”

Art is work. Art is hard work. It might be harder than math or science because there are no right answers. This is a special class where your child has to create the solution. When report cards come out remember that a 100% in art class would be near perfection and that is incredibly difficult to achieve. Please don’t look for a number on a report card to reflect the success or enjoyment your child experiences in the art room.

3. Please remember that I am human also.

I work with 600 students a week. Each of them is special to me and I try to do my best for each of them, every day, of every week. I make mistakes. I get overwhelmed. I have the same laundry, practice, and grocery shopping that you have and it is a juggling act to keep everything going. When my sick child preempts the grading of your child’s art project, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to give your son or daughter prompt and thorough feedback, it’s just that my feverish 3-year-old deserved my attention that evening.

4. Please ask your child about what we are learning.

Don’t be afraid to ask them to teach you something. You never know what you may discover about yourself when you open a box of crayons and create something with your child.

5. Please don’t toss the year-end portfolio of your child’s artwork in the trash.

I understand that you can’t possibly keep everything. Trust me, I know, but I also know that when your child sees you discard their work, it makes them feel like their ideas and hard work just aren’t good enough. Take a minute to look at the images,  have your child save their favorite one or two. Save your favorite one and talk to them about why we can’t save everything. This simple act goes a long way to boost their confidence in their ability to be an artist.

letter to parents

6. Please treat art class with the same respect as any other class.

Don’t downplay the value of art or art class. Artists play a part in the design of everything you use throughout the day. From your morning coffee cup to your new outfit, from your house to your office building, an artist made all those things or, at least, made them better. The chances are pretty good your child will be employed in a creative field and the skills they learn in art class will help them succeed. Meeting deadlines, research, planning, and dedication to the task are all non-art skills reinforced in art class and used daily in the workforce.

Thank you for your time in reading this. I truly am excited for the upcoming year and I am looking forward to the creative solutions your son or daughter will share with me. As the year goes on, please feel free to stop by the art room to help or to see what we are doing at any time.

Sincerely,

– Mrs. Carlisle

Wow, that felt really good to do. Writing this letter helped me remember that what we do in the art room really is special. Remember the things that make art class different are also the things that make it wonderful. I don’t know if I will ever mail this to my students’ parents, but I like that writing it gives me the option.

Would you send a letter like this to your students?

What else would you say to the parents of your students?

 

Jennifer Carlisle

Jen is a middle school art teacher from Norfolk, NE who loves exploring and teaching art through traditional and digital art mediums.

Related

  • Ms. C

    Beautiful!!! Go ahead and send it! It’s perfect for elementary (which I see you teach) or middle school. At the high school level, I have to have a different sort of conversation with parents of kids who want to study art in college. Teachers like you at the primary levels really would pave a smoother road for those talks!!!

    • Jennifer Carlisle

      thank you…

  • Kris S.

    Well said! I don’t have my own classroom yet but when I was student teaching I heard High School and Middle School students say horrible things about their “talent” in art and try to rush through projects. I thought maybe there was a way to get parents to help. This looks like a great way to reinforce art and the importance it plays in life.

  • Rosanne

    Excellent! You have very eloquently put into words exactly what so many of your fellow art teachers are thinking and feeling. As well as what parents need to hear.
    Thank you for sharing!

  • Denise

    I really love this idea. Think I’ll do my own and send it out in an email, and/or letter. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Keirsten Jennings

    so glad to know I’m not the only one who HATED the awkwardness of teaching HS students to pull handles – I’ve avoided it for years! Thanks for the good idea about using the ribbon tools.

  • anna nichols

    I was shaking my head the whole time I watched this – such a simple solution to a problem that has given me headaches for years! Thank you, Tim Bogatz!

  • My problem is an Ag class right across the hall. The teacher often has them making posters or vignettes, but never has any supplies. Half the time, I have to go in search of my tools and find brushes crusted with dried paint. I noticed yesterday, when using the phone in her office, one of my new mop brushes on her desk.

  • Melissa Gilbertsen

    You are simply divine and I am so grateful you posted this as I always feel like there are so many erroneous assumptions about the value of what we do in art. I also feel like so many syllabus handouts are cold and actually distance parents from feeling that you are a real person and this can lead to problems down the road sometimes. You also struck just the perfect tone without sounding preachy. Is it okay if I use this in a similar form as it is just perfect and I literally am busier than a one-armed-wallpaper hanger with creating curriculum from thin air! Excellent post, thanks!!

  • Kimberly Gilman

    What an excellent letter to parents! I, too, would like to adapt this for use at my school’s Back to School nights. There are 3 full time art teachers in my department and you hit all the key things that we struggle to make parents understand. I especially like the parts about looking at the child’s work and choosing one to keep instead of tossing the whole portfolio without a glance, and realizing that art takes effort and provides important real world lessons beyond art skills and techniques. Thank you for sharing!

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