Finding art classes for kids and teens
The visual arts -- drawing, painting, sketching, sculpting, weaving, pottery, photography, and printmaking -- have many benefits for children. Not only do they stimulate creativity and imagination, but they also improve hand-eye coordination, increase concentration and attention to detail, and boost self-esteem. Children learn to emphasize the process rather than the end result, and they get a sense of pride from completing a project and expressing themselves.
Art lessons are still part of most school curriculums, but there are also numerous opportunities to encourage and develop your child's artistic talents outside of school, as well.
Elementary art lessons
For school-aged children, art lessons generally focus on the basics (color, texture, line, perspective) and center on themes related to other subjects (geography, nature, shapes, and even language) or to character and emotional development. Often, art at this level is not an individual class but is integrated into other classes. For example, students might do origami as part of a lesson on Japan, or create crayon rubbings of leaves as part of environmental studies.
If you want to foster your child's creativity outside of the classroom, there are plenty of simple arts and crafts projects you can do at home. You can also look into art classes for kids at your local library, museum, art gallery, or other arts-focused organization. Many organizations or municipalities also offer art-themed day camps during the summer.
High school art lessons
In high school, art is generally a separate subject and, in most cases, is elective rather than compulsory. Art classes at this level tend to be more specialized, as well. For example, there are generally separate classes for figure drawing, oil painting, photography, sculpture, etc. There may even be a chance to showcase some of the artistic work by setting up art installations for the parents and community to examine. Some high schools also offer career-focused art education, such as interior design, logo and product design, graphic design, and fashion design.
Unlike kids' art classes, art classes for teens can be a bit harder to find. If your teen is interested in a particular area of art, look into private lessons with a local artist who works in the same medium. You may also find appropriate courses through the continuing education school at a local college or university.
Online art lessons
If there are no local classes, or if you would prefer something more free-form, there are a variety of art lessons online for both kids and teens. YouTube is a great place for these lessons, since they'll be free and varied for the learner to find the best instructor. While YouTube doesn't support downloading these YouTube videos to have permanently on a computer, you can still watch them on the site as often as you'd like. These lessons come in two types:
1) lesson plans for parents and teachers to use for instructing children
2) step-by-step lessons for self-directed learning (geared at older children and teens)
These can be excellent supplements to classroom instruction, but if your child or teen is serious about pursuing art as a pastime or a career, he or she may eventually want a more personalized learning experience, which can generally only take place in person (and with someone who specializes in art education).