Art plays an important role in young children’s lives. It gives them opportunities to experiment creatively with color, line, shape, design, size and texture.
Art is a way for children to:
- express themselves
- learn through trial and error; and
- create something that is uniquely their own
They develop fine motor skills experimenting with crayons, chalk, markers and different sized brushes. They learn about making choices when choosing colors and they learn about cause and effect when mixing colors. Working with art materials is very exciting for young children and can help develop confidence and self- awareness.
For a child, it is not the product that is most important but the process. When exploring art with children here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Avoid drawing for children. When an adult takes over every time a child is unsure how to draw something, the child eventually learns to give up on their own developing drawing skills. They will learn that when they say “I can’t do it,” someone will step in and do it for them. If a child is having trouble drawing on their own, have them take a look in books for inspiration, or talk the process out with them.
- Express interest in children’s art but don’t praise every piece. If everything a child draws or paints is a “good job” that child won’t develop their skills. Plus the product is not what is important to a young child, it is the process in which it happened. Instead of using, “good job” or “I like it,” make detailed remarks about the child’s process, “I see you worked very hard on that” or “You used blue and yellow and made lots of green!” Ask them if “they would like to tell you about their picture” instead of “what did you draw?” this way it is a little more open-ended and can draw stories out of a child instead of a guessing game of what you think they drew.
- Quality of materials are important. To really help a child develop an appreciation for art, you must begin by providing quality materials to work with. Demonstrate how to use the materials early on and how to care for them. The materials will last longer and the children will develop a stronger confidence when using them as well as a respect for art materials.
Books about Children and Art
Rapunzel's Supermarket: All about Young Children and Their Art
First Art : Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twos
The Art of Teaching Art to Children: In School and at Home
Understanding Children's Drawings
The Language of Art: Reggio-Inspired Studio Practices in Early Childhood Settings
The Creative Arts: A Process Approach for Teachers and Children (5th Edition)
In The Spirit Of The Studio: Learning From The Atelier Of Reggio Emilia (Early Childhood Education)