Kindergarten Art As Social Practice

You may have heard a short piece on NPR this past week about Peptoc, a hotline where you can hear encouraging words from kindergartners.


Call a new hotline, and you’ll get just that — encouraging words from a resilient group of kindergartners.

Kids’ voices will prompt you with a menu of options:

If you’re feeling mad, frustrated or nervous, press 1. If you need words of encouragement and life advice, press 2. If you need a pep talk from kindergartners, press 3. If you need to hear kids laughing with delight, press 4. For encouragement in Spanish, press 5.


It was put together with the help of teachers Jessica Martin and Asherah Weiss. Martin, who teaches the arts program at the school, says she was inspired by her students’ positive attitudes, despite all they’ve been through — the pandemic, wildfires in the region and just the everyday challenges of being a kid.

Apparently within two days of getting the hotline operational, they were getting around 700 callers an hour.

I became aware of the story on Twitter and what caught my eye and made me follow the link was the statement that the hotline came out of a discussion with the kids about art as social practice. While that is probably not the terminology they used with the kindergartners, it stood out as an example of how it is never too early to start teach kids that artistic practice has a role in our lives other than being viewed as frivolous entertainment.

The pictures accompanying the NPR story show kids putting up posters they made promoting the hotline and delivering some of the same messaging as is found on their hotline.

The concept that you are able to contribute to the greater joy of society as a 5-6 year old has the potential for leaving a long lasting impression on these kids which will shape how they live their lives. In five or six years if these kids are told thousands of people have been calling every day to hear them laugh for half their life, that can really be meaningful.

And of course, if the hotline has helped relieve the stress of millions of adults, that has been a pretty great outcome as well.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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