Children's art is a subject that I have been really passionate about for a while. With a degree in Child Development the idea that it's about the process not the product was ingrained in me. Sure, intricate crafts for children are really cute to adults. For kids, there does not always have to be an end product. How many times have you seen a kid take a few minutes to draw on a piece of paper and abandon it moments later? It's just about having fun and experimenting with materials. This promotes creativity and helps children to feel like art is fun instead of stressing out about making it look "right".
Here are four lessons learned, from my son and from several years of working with preschoolers, about children and art:
1. Don't spend a long time putting an art activity together. Kids don't care if intricate pieces are cut from coordinating pieces of scrapbook paper or if you just let them tear up magazine pages and cover them in glue. Plus, there is less frustration when your toddler abandons the activity after two minutes (yeah, speaking from experience).
2. Don't stress about coming up with a new activity for every day of the week. Children don't care about novelty in the same way that adults do. Henry could draw with the same markers every single day. In fact, he does draw with the same markers every single day. Throw some fancy Pinterest inspired activity every once in a while, if you have time, but there is nothing wrong with sticking to the basics. If you are working full-time or have zillions of little kids running around, creative art projects might be the last thing on your mind, and that is ok.
3. Be ready to abandon ship if your kid isn't interested. The paper, paint, and cookie cutters for stamping were all ready to go. After his nap I whisked Henry outside to do some creative art because, hey, this is good for you, kid. I had visions of laughing and smearing the cookie cutters in paint then smearing paint on paper. "I'm such a good mom, so prepared!" I thought. He touched the paint with a finger or two then left to gather stuff from around the yard. So we abandoned the paints and played with sticks and leaves. No harm done. I can have the best art activity in the world but if my boy isn't interested, then he isn't interested and that's that.
4. If you aren't having fun, then stop. The only stress should be that your kid will get acrylic paint on the carpet. No one is keeping tabs on how many new art activities you are doing with your children, and no one should. A few minutes painting with cars is not worth a grumpy momma or daddy! If playing outside, snuggling on the couch, reading books, or going to the mall is a more enjoyable experience for your family, then do that instead.
I feel confident that by implementing these ideas into the way I approach art with my son I am giving him the best chance to feel that art is what it is supposed to be: you know...fun...
This post is a part of my series "31 Days of Lessons Learned". Check out the recap here.