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I want you to feel like I am here for both you and your kiddos.

As parents we all make thousands of parenting decisions a day.  With these posts,  I hope that my expertise will help you to better navigate the pitfalls that dealing with art can present.  I know what I know, because I made mistakes...many ...many mistakes.   Hopefully I learned from them and some of what I know I can pass on to you and yours.


How do I assess my child's learning in art? Give feedback ?

Updated: Aug 1, 2022


To start with, I recommend two types of assessing. What we called "Dipstick" assessments, which was done on a fairly regular basis during work time and "Portfolio Day" which was done 2-5 times a school year, after every 6 or so finished projects.

Also, there is formal assessments which usually involve some kind of paper work, and informal assessments which are usually just a verbal evaluation or feedback.

*If you have purchased an arted4kiddos pack, you will notice that some projects are called, "Just 4 Fun". They are what I would describe as enrichment or practice work. These were projects I did not generally consider in assessing their work. There are usually 6 main projects in each pack are the ones I assessed. I graded over 800 students which means I was looking at roughly 4,800 works in a couple of weeks while still teaching 6 or more classes a day. That was pretty intense. I had to draw a line somewhere, or I would have lived at work for those weeks. How that applies to my at home instructors, I think it would be a good idea to do a portfolio day as they finish each Grab and Go Pack.


I recommend throwing in a quick dipstick self-evaluation occasionally during a unit or project. To dipstick test, stop working and ask them to evaluate themselves on how well they are doing. Usually that involved questions like:

  • Am I taking my time to create quality work?

  • Am I following directions? Using visual resources?

  • Am I meeting the success criterion?

  • Am I working independently without needing to be redirected?" -staying on task?

  • What do I most like about my work?

  • Is there anything I could be doing better?

I did NOT make a big deal out of this. I would just go through the questions and ask them to take a second and reflect on how things were going. You could certainly do this as a conversation between learners or the learners and you, but I didn't want to take the time for that.


PORTFOLIOS- Reflecting on a collection of work rather than individual projects

Having a collection of work to assess is much more powerful/meaningful for the learner than evaluating an individual works of art. They are better able to see their progress and will be less likely to be hypercritical. Assessment should be broken down into several categories . If you order a Grab and Go pack you will see that there is a "success criterion" for each project that I recommend using when assessing. This give them a clear understanding of what learning is expected for each project.

If left to their own devices, they often will judge the quality of their work solely on how "nice" it looks. Breaking out the learning into various criterion helps them to get a clearer picture of their own accomplishments and strengths as well as areas in need of improvement. Their art might not be super neat and tidy, but maybe it is super unique? Or maybe they didn't come up with super unique ideas, but their design is really good.

We also want to help learners to take more responsibility for their own learning. Sometimes learners and even parents can believe a lack of progress in art due to a lack of talent. Artistic talent is a fallacy, very artistic students are usually fairly intelligent, but as Thomas Edison said, " Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration". Developing effective work habits, diligence, and a productive mindset are the real earmarks of success in art. They don’t call it artwork for nothing. By self assessing the progress including their work habits, they will develop a greater understanding of the connection between effort and success.


A portfolio evaluation can also give you a chance to reflect on their instruction and gave you a better picture of their progress. I think you will usually be pleasantly surprised by how well they are doing, but sometimes you will see concepts that were obviously confusing to them, skills that need a little more practice, or a learning environment that needs a little tweaking. Things that can get in the way of learning include: time of day, previous activities (never do art after math without a break), students rushing their work, not using available learning resources, distractions, unclear expectations, and negative self-talk to name a few. If it is a concept or skill that needs a little shoring up, look for activities that will accomplish that.

I attached my assessment sheets to their work in my teaching days. I would always tell them to let me know if they disagreed with my assessment. They rarely did. We were generally very close to agreement on how they were doing...amazingly so actually. You can, of course, choose to keep your assessment under your hat. You know your child, and what is best for them.

I feel that evaluating their own progress and giving learners as much formal feedback as possible was well worth the time. Reflecting on their progress should be an honest, thoughtful, and affirming activity.


To be honest, the VAST majority of feedback my students received from me was in class during work time. I encourage you to be specific but not effusive when giving verbal feedback. Relate it to either success criteria or work habits. Comments like, “I see you are...

  • working independently today (using learning resources).

  • using effective ______ technique.

  • adding interesting details to your drawing.

  • using your picture space in an interesting way.

I worked with a “growth mindset” approach and used growth mindset language in my classroom. I strongly suggest, if this is not familiar to you, to give it a look. Growth mindset is, as the name suggests, putting emphasis on progress not on specific outcomes in a specific time frame. My language in the classroom and on assessments is growth mindset based.

The video below is Carol the “Growth Mindset” guru.

Ultimately the goal is to replace nonproductive self-talk with productive thinking habits. For example, instead of a student thinking, “I am so talented!” they would think, “I worked really hard!”. Instead of thinking, “Well that was a complete failure, I am not a good artist!”, they would think “Well now I know how not to do that!”. This type of language is consistent the growth mindset and is essential to success in any area of achievement.


I was required to assess my students 2 to 4 times a year. Likely many of you will have no such requirement in place. I do, however, recommend that you do take time to give your budding artist feedback from time to time. Be it formal or informal. They doubtlessly get feedback on their writing or math work. It should really not be any different in art. Imagine how well your child would be doing in math or writing if they were never given any feedback!

In the long run it will help them to become more accomplished artists. Also, and more importantly will help them to accept that not every project is going to be a masterpiece and that is perfectly okay.

Below are self assessment (I suggest using them at the end of a unit of instruction) and teacher evaluation forms that you can use to evaluate a student's progress.) There is a FREE downloadable PDF in the store.

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