(credit: TIMOTHY CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
A budding Picasso or two are out there for sure. Parents can do no better than to introduce children to extra-curricular activities, sports, music, theater and more. Aside from seeing what sticks and uncovering a potential passion, children benefit from developing socialization skills, imagination, hand-eye coordination, self-esteem, confidence, project management and teamwork. In addition to Bay Area museums and studios, truly good art classes for small groups run by highly trained and inspirational instructors can be found in the neighborhoods of San Francisco.
3316 22nd St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Classes at Little Tree Studios are held in a cute space in the heart of the Mission District. Instruction is available for after school on Tuesday through Friday, for school vacations and for parents' date nights, too. Seedling classes for ages two to four are offered on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday mornings. Summer camps are divided into smaller age groups with a ratio of three teachers to 15 students. Choose from painting, drawing, sewing and sculpture. Nichole has teaching certificates from the three states she has taught in, as well as a Master's in early childhood special education.
3322 Buchanan St.
San Francisco, CA 94123
Formerly based in Noe Valley, Gisele of Spark Creativity has developed a multi-location schedule that makes her art classes mobile, serving different neighborhoods. In addition, she's on call for children's birthday parties at your home, a studio or another location where the art projects can be matched to your party theme. As the mother of two little "spark plugs" of her own, coupled with her Master's and experience as a pre-K through grade 5 teacher, Gisele brings her own skill set for the eight-and-under crowd to the art table every day. Mothers of toddlers take note that Spark Creativity is happy to introduce art to toddlers from 18 months, when messiness and creativity go hand-in-hand.
Pier 15, The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94111
Some of the Bay Area's most creative minds hang out at The Tinkering Studio inside of the Exploratorium's new space on the waterfront. Visiting artists, scientists and designers are supplemented by the museum's professional explainer staff in a space where museum visitors are guided on construction, electrical, battery-charged and aerodynamic projects. There is always something different in progress and kids are usually the focus. One thing is for sure, it's learning to think with your hands.
3200 California St.
San Francisco, CA 94118
You can count on the JCCSF to have lots going on. Youth Art during school semesters includes Dabblers (ocean or jungle track) for ages three and up, Mud Time for ages four to six, Clay Creators sessions for both ages five to eight and ages six to nine, Art From Nature for ages seven to 10, plus sculpting and ceramics for ages nine and up. Ask about art during 2014 summer camp, from June 2 to August 22.
199 Museum Way
San Francisco, CA 94114
Right in the geographic heart of the city, admission is free to the Randall Art Museum, owned and operated by the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. A wide curriculum covers drop-in Toddler Tuesdays (from 14 months) to teens, with courses in woodworking, ceramics and painting. Saturdays feature drop-in sessions for ceramics, plus fun art and science projects through June 28, 2014 for ages three to eight, attending with an adult. Make a Mother's Day card or a miniature car, there's lots on offer.
Laurie Joe Miller Farr is a freelance writer covering all things in her adopted San Francisco. A dedicated urbanite, she's a transplanted New Yorker by way of a couple of decades in London as a hotel sales and marketing manager. Follow her work on @ReferencePlease, USA Today, Yahoo! and on Examiner.com.
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