Encouraging Your Budding Artist
They sit with their heads bent over their work, crayons flashing, lips set in concentration. No one can be as intent on creation as preschoolers, and most parents have refrigerators full of drawings to prove it. Some children, however, seem to have more than a passing interest in art and artistic endeavors. So how can you provide inspiration to your budding artist?
At the preschool age, the best thing you can do for your tiny Picasso is to provide a variety of materials and endless encouragement. Dr. Alice Honig, professor emeriti of child development at Syracuse University's College of Human Services and Health Professions, believes that providing a wide array of materials is key to showing your child that you value his efforts.
"Give them lots of magic markers, crayons, and paper and blunt scissors, including pinking shears," says Honig.
She suggests that you also provide an assortment of "beautiful junk," such as toilet paper rolls, material cut into confetti pieces, glitter, paper plates, empty thread spools and different types of glue.
Tempting to Touch
Children enjoy working with different mediums that provide a variety of tactile experiences. Whipped cream or shaving cream art is always enjoyed by children of this age, and if done in the bathtub, cleanup is a breeze. Another popular tactile activity is cornmeal drawing. Add about one half cup of cornmeal to a cookie sheet and let them go to work on fun, though impermanent pictures. Play-Doh is fun, but by using different types of clay, they are gaining a wide array of molding experience.
Another tip from Honig is to be careful in your reactions to their art. "Don't praise too lavishly," says Honig. "Put some of the artwork up on the kitchen cabinets and walls. Just enjoy and smile with great love in your eyes!"
The following tips will help you encourage your children's artistic endeavors – no matter where that may lead them!
- Provide a generous workspace with a big wastebasket close by. Add a booster chair if your child isn't at a comfortable height.
- To make clean up easier, cover their work area with a plastic picnic cloth.
- Keep a certain amount of art supplies within reach so they can create when the need hits – but keep paints and the messier supplies out of their reach so you can be aware when they are being used.
- Keep a portfolio of their artwork and ask them which pieces they feel are their best to put in the portfolio. This helps them evaluate their own work.
- Keep your participation to a minimum. Children love to do things with their parents, but they may also compare their work with yours and feel inadequate.