Children and art, allowing them to just create. March 11, 2019
Your preschooler is having a blast finger-painting with a mix of colours. Trying to be encouraging, you ask her, “What are you making?” and she shrugs. She hadn’t given it any thought. Little kids live for the moment — they love the way it feels when they smear paint on paper, how it looks when they sprinkle glitter, and even the soft sound a brush makes as it crosses the page, says Amy Yang, founder of Brooklyn Design Lab, an art school for children. That can be hard for parents to accept, says Lisa Ecklund-Flores, co-founder and executive director of Church Street School for Music and Art, in New York City. But letting go — and allowing kids to enjoy the process of creation — can reap big rewards. “Children will be better off in the long run if they’re allowed just to be in the moment and express themselves,” she says.
Fostering creativity won’t just increase your child’s chances of becoming the next Picasso. But you are helping him develop mentally, socially, and emotionally, says Ecklund-Flores. Creating art may boost young children’s ability to analyze and problem-solve, according to Mary Ann F. Kohl, author of Primary Art: It’s the Process, Not the Product. As kids manipulate a paintbrush, their fine motor skills improve. By counting pieces and colours, they learn the basics of math. When children experiment with materials, they dabble in science. Most importantly, when kids feel good while they are creating, art helps boost self-confidence. And children who feel able to experiment and to make mistakes feel free to invent new ways of thinking, which extends well beyond the craft room.
6 Ways to Inspire Creativity
Foster process-focused art with advice from Leslie Bushara, deputy director for education at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.
1. Prepare for a mess. Set up an art space where your kid can be free to experiment (and get messy!), advises Bushara. Throw a drop cloth or a newspaper on top of your kitchen table or in the garage. If weather permits, let kids paint outside.
2. Avoid giving direction. Don’t tell your kid what to make or how to make it. Instead of saying, “Paint a rainbow,” encourage her to “experiment with mixing colours using different types of brushes and paper,” suggests Bushara.
3. Speak specifically about art. When talking to your child about his artwork, try to be precise in your comments. For instance, instead of giving a generic compliment, Bushara recommends saying, “I see you used a lot of purples. Why did you choose that colour?”
4. Explore your child’s process. Often the best way to encourage conversation about your child’s art is simply to say, “Tell me about what you made,” or ask, “Did you have fun making it?”
5. Don’t draw with your child. When parents draw something representational while a younger child is sketching, it can frustrate him, warns Bushara. “It’s better to be near him and let him know that you’re interested and supportive of his art-making,” she says.
6. Let it be. When a child finishes a piece, don’t suggest additions or changes, advises Bushara. It’s important for a child to feel that what she’s created is enough — even if it’s just a dot on the page.
<h2>For me, creativity started young</h2>
I was lucky I had at an early age, a teacher who recognized my passion for art and parents that encouraged that passion. This allows me to have a better appreciation for the world around me. An appreciation I hope comes through in my work.
For more about foster art with kids check out this blog post.