Discover Your Inner Instructor: Why Teaching Art to Seniors is an Act of Love

Mary Beth Flynn | 13 September, 2021


          
            Discover Your Inner Instructor: Why Teaching Art to Seniors is an Act of Love

As an activity director or staff member, two of the greatest gifts you can give to the residents you serve is a safe space where they can express themselves creatively and an encouraging word that fills them with pride as they put paintbrush to paper.

To help activity staff guide seniors through the creative process, every Artfully Aging watercolor project includes an activity-specific instructional video as well as access to our train-the-trainer videos, which highlight watercolor techniques and advice on tailoring art sessions to residents in different levels of care.

Even with all the support Artfully Aging offers, a common concern among activity staff is: "If I'm not an artist - how can I possibly teach other people how to paint?”  

It’s a valid concern, especially in a world that tends to critique everything we do and cause us to second-guess ourselves. As celebrated artist and author Julia Cameron wrote in Walking in this World: The Practical Art of Creativity, when it comes to art, “It becomes not about how good we are but how good we can be in selfless service to something larger than ourselves.” Every time you lead an art session, you’re improving your residents’ moods, unleashing their creativity and boosting their self-confidence.

In addition, when you teach a skill at the same time you’re learning it, you gain a deeper understanding of the subject and uncover talents you didn’t know you possessed. This “protégé effect,” makes a teacher-to-be more aware of their learning process while congruently helping others succeed. At its core is the focus on human connection – when you work harder to learn a topic for someone other than yourself, you feel a sense of pride and satisfaction that can only come from another’s accomplishment.

Artfully Aging was designed to remove the barriers to creativity, both for seniors and their instructors. While all projects include prepared watercolor sheets and an instructional video designed to show activity staff how to guide residents through the project, everyone is encouraged to bring their own creative spin to their own work of art. As long as you remember the watercolor basics from your train-the-trainer videos, offer reassurance, and in the case of assisted living or memory care residents, provide minimal hands-on guidance, the seniors you serve have the best teacher they could ever ask for!

According to researchers with The Brookings Institution, “Engaging with art is essential to the human experience.” So, by releasing your own insecurities about art to inspire others, you show your residents how much you care about them. To learn more about the Artfully Aging process, click here to watch our quick five-minute “Implementing the Program” video.