Monart Education

One Saturday in the early 1990’s I attended a workshop for teachers (@St. Rose of Lima Church in Paso Robles, CA) that presented a method for drawing with children called “Monart”. I had always considered myself a “non-drawer” with no talent in visual arts (I still do…), but what I learned that day helped me to provide a structure to help my students improve their visual perception and to create illustrations they were proud to share.

Some students stand out as dripping visual art talent in my mind, most were doodlers though and some were reluctant to do anything at all in the area of drawing. I have since used the method with every class I have taught and in my own life to illustrate things I developed for instruction.

Mona Brookes is both a trained artist and a psychologist. She has developed and delivered training programs for all ages. Her site showcases many art samples. In 1979 she created the “Monart Method” which combined attention to visual detail with a different approach to learning phonetic principles while learning to read. Data collected with a California Arts Council study grant demonstrated up to a 20% increase in reading scores for study participants. This comprehensive program supports increased student self-confidence and attention to detail as student¬†ability to pay attention to visual detail and follow auditory instruction improves.

In education we spend so much time looking for miracle solutions to student struggles. We may find something that gives us good results but soon a new idea and/or a new product is touted to replace what we are using. Especially with reading I believe we should not be throwing out tools and strategies that work in favor of a new toy not yet proven. Always looking to tweak and improve our instructional abilities yes, but teachers need to keep what they know works.

[I was pretty horrified in late May when perfectly useful books and “workbook” resources were dumped into the recycle bins because a “new adoption” was moving in- New and improved things to read…? Its a big ‘duh’ for me- so much wasted money, training time and lesson development and the resources used to produce the books and print resources. Public education has many, many habits in need of pruning, sigh… Books should be replaced when they have been read to shreds not because a salesperson brought in the brightest and best new collection.]

Back to Monart ūüėČ

I used the lessons from my class and in the book Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes to provide direct instruction for students in Kindergarten through 8th grade. Mona has a YouTube channel and some basic lessons you can preview {video link}.  Mona has developed a group of lessons that will take you and your students through the process of paying attention to detail in order to recreate what you see. The chart of the 5 Elements of shape is a great resource. Mastering these elements opens up a whole new world of reproducing what you see and therefore making personal sense of your observations.

I think the lessons help you relax, help you focus on detail, and help you see visual arts with a new eye. In conjunction with a variety of multi-sensory instructional strategies, Monart can support visual processing challenges some children experience and help to sustain focus to detail many children struggle with. If you have an opportunity to take a class- you won’t regret it; if not borrow the book from a library and buy some colored markers, a few good pencils and a sketch book. I wish had pictures of my students’ work from those years, but I can still remember many of the projects and the wonderful results!

Exposing yourself to new information about the drawing process will make a more dramatic change in your current ability to draw than will any other factor. Changing your expectations about what is acceptable and possible can be the key to unlocking the door. (Drawing with Children, 1986 p. 7)


Gallery of art

Quinn’s birds