In Program 6 of Art to Heart, Louisville artist Dionisio Ceballos and his daughter, Emilia, draw together. Ceballos talks about the importance of spending time with his daughter and allowing her to explore and create as opposed to instructing her or critiquing her.
Many parents wonder how to best respond to their children’s artwork and creative efforts. Comments about their work should keep in mind the fact that for young children, it’s the process, not the final product, that is important. Asking questions that engage the child to talk about his or her work or commenting on a specific aspect of the work (“I like all those bright colors”) or the process (“It looks like you had fun doing this”) will be more encouraging than profusely praising every activity. Over-praising can actually create pressure on children—they worry that they will have to produce something that pleases you every time.
Experts also advise that you should try to avoid evaluating a young child’s work as a realistic interpretation. Your child is re-creating the world the way he or she sees it. Avoid the temptation to tell or show your child how to “make it look right.” Fearing that they can’t draw or sing or dance is one reason some children stop doing art activities around 3rd grade. Remember that your child is exploring, experimenting, and learning to express him- or herself. And that should be fun!
Tips on Organizing Art Materials at Home
- Organize art materials so they are accessible. Purchase art materials that are safe and appropriate for your child’s age. Keep basic paper, markers, crayons, and other materials in an “Art Box” or “Art Drawer.”
- Provide access to boxes and materials from recycling that children can manipulate.
- Provide children free access to art supplies as possible. Some art supplies require adult supervision or participation, but children as young as toddlers may be able to learn simple rules for using some art supplies. When it’s safe, keep supplies in a location children can reach by themselves instead of requiring them to ask you to get them.
- Let your child try painting with alternate materials like feathers, cotton swabs, and leaves. Children love handling different materials and making collages with different textures.
- Regularly set out selected and special art supplies for exploration, such as paints, glitter, or sculpting clay.
- Add new activities at home to increase children’s interest by buying new paint or adding tissue paper to the art box.
- When possible, play with the children by making the same thing or working together. Messes are most likely to happen when children are unsupervised.