The definition of art is very dynamic, however, the Oxford Dictionary describes it as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” I’d like to add that art is a powerful form of communication especially for children that have not yet gained adequate communication skills.
Some people will cringe at the thought of art with children, whilst others enjoy practising their own creativity daily. As an early childhood teacher I’ve seen a few of the mistakes that well-meaning parents and educators can make when doing art, I think it’s important to highlight them.
- Placing too much emphasis on the product
Most parents search Pinterest for their art and craft ideas and select an activity based on the carefully crafted Pinterest end result photo. We then get upset if our children derail from our plan and their artwork begins to resemble a scribbled mess instead.
FACT: The learning of skills in art occurs in the creation/process stage, therefore the end result doesn’t really matter.
- Buying expensive resources: Art doesn’t need to be expensive
In fact, most age-appropriate crafts can be done using recycled household items (old boxes, newspaper, toilet rolls). Discount stores also have lots of cheap resources. Paints can be made using our non-toxic homemade paint recipes.
- Expect too much: make sure your expectations are age appropriate
Children begin drawing and forming representational figures and attempting to write letters from around 4 years old, so don’t be disheartened when your 2-year-old can’t write her name or use scissors adequately. Don’t force it either, instead, we suggest lots of fine motor play including play dough, beading or sensory play. Parents often get disheartened when they have spent time setting up an activity and then their children play for approximately 30 seconds. It’s important to understand that a child’s focus and attention span can vary depending on their mood and interests. We suggest expecting one minute per year old your child is up to the age of 5years. Example 3 year old can only sit still and focus for 3 minutes.
- Intervene with the process: this one is something I see often.
If your child puts their sticker upside down or glues their googley eye the wrong way DONT FIX IT (unless they ask)! Fixing our children’s artwork sends them the message that their efforts weren’t good enough. Imagine if you had someone watching over your shoulder and automatically fixing anything you did wrong at work. Give your child space and time to correct themselves, otherwise, how will they ever learn?
- Hate the experience: art can be messy, it can look disorganised and it can seem a little chaotic at times.
The most important thing is that you are all having fun. There’s nothing a bath and some wipes can’t fix. Incorporate art into your daily routine, take it outside to avoid the mess- you won’t regret it I promise!
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