Article from one of our Jupiter contributers

“Tell Me All About it!”
A comment on the Importance of Discussing a Child’s Art
            Watch a child’s face light up and transform to a sweet, shyness, or to an excited, earnestness when you focus only on him or her and say “Tell me all about it”.
            There are times when a new preschool teacher or child care center caregiver does not recognize the importance of every minute spent with a child as a child creates a new work of art. His or her creative expression must be acknowledged.
            He or she leans in for a special closeness, while sharing the finest details of a drawing, a painting, or a collage. One may be fortunate enough to feel a warm glow of reward and say to yourself, “Now this is why I am here, in this place, at this time, with this child!”
            The caregiver at hand has an immense responsibility to help the child’s development of self – confidence, self – esteem, and a sense of security. A child must think someone really cares about what he or she says, thinks, and does. It is not a caregiver’s place to critique the art, but to offer a personal brief reaction with “Oh I really like that!”, or “I think that is very interesting!” Save “That’s good.” for writing a letter or numeral correctly.
            Open – ended questions keep a discussion going with, “What is this little character doing over here?”, or “Why did you choose this color?” (or shape, size, etc.) More questions could be “What is your favorite part?”, “Why did you choose this pattern?” The reward for the caregiver is the obvious awakening of the child as he or she sits up straight with a new look of enthusiasm on his or her face to answer such questions and have individual time to tell someone about his or her creation.
            Encouraging building blocks as an art form is fun for everyone involved. Sometimes children create intricate structures with simple wooden blocks of many shapes and sizes. The designs of beauty and practical use lead to lengthy discussions “What did you build over here?” “How can it be used?” “Where might this be found outside?”
            Some children find sitting at a table with paper boring and stifling until he or she develops an interest in fine motor skill art with small pieces or simply crayons or paintbrushes. Collage materials such as snips of colored paper, small leaves, feathers, pom – poms, small pieces of twigs, cut up pipe cleaners, small buttons, etc. may lead to a scene or a pattern, or just a random creative piece. A child’s imagination can provide a great deal of discussion after using such choices of materials!
            Use of different tools and different forms of paint provide an endless realm of art possibilities. A tooth brush with tempera paint, a Q – tip with water colors, a cotton ball, a feather, a string, or a marble (in a pie pan closely supervised by the caregiver!) all dipped in tempera paint would provide many unique creations to amaze the artist! Even the use of fingers and finger paint provides a pleasure for the sense of touch as more topics for discussion are appearing. “How did that feel on your fingers?” (cold, wet, smooth, sticky, etc.) “What did you see when your red paint mixed with your yellow paint?”
            The development of drawing is just as much fun, though not as messy and time consuming as paint – related projects. When in doubt for a few brief segment of time, say, “Let’s draw!” Some plain white paper and a basket of crayons provide materials necessary for more fascinating art! The caregiver could write the child’s remarks on papers as dictation. “This is a boat. The sharks are close to it.” Or “This is my mom. She is cooking dinner.” There may be just a crooked line, an irregular circle, a zigzag, or some other little marks, but, he or she see it as whatever it is that you’ve been told. Write it down to also delight the parents. Date it to compare to more sophisticated drawings in the future. But, most important, always remember to say, “Tell me all about it!”
Kathy Collier
ABC Learning Garden Monessori
Jupiter, Fl.

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