Have you ever had a hard time guessing what your toddler draws? As adults, we tend to focus on what the drawing means, instead of seeing the bigger picture.
Children use art as a newfound way to express what they like, who they are, and how they see the world around them. It goes beyond replicating a flower or cat shape, which is very important in itself, but instead by creating an art piece they are learning to be themselves.
Being able to express his or her feelings, thoughts, and wishes equals freedom and safety.
What are the benefits of art education in early childhood?
According to Kimberly Sheridan, Ed.D., coauthor of Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education, “It’s not as easy to test the skills that children learn from the arts, but that doesn’t make them any less important”.
She noted though that participating in a school arts program increases a child’s ability to: Observe the world carefully and discard preconceptions in order to envision something and then create it, go beyond just learning a skill to express a personal voice, problem-solve and persist despite frustration and setbacks and reflect on the results and ask what could improve them.
Besides expressing their points of view, toddlers feel good about themselves after finishing an art ‘masterpiece’, especially if you give positive feedback.
When your toddler finishes a simple art project, is not only learning to take pride in his accomplishments but feeling powerful.
What can you do to help your preschooler with self-expression?
The first thing is to be supportive, of course. Give your children your full attention as they express their feelings and ideas about their “work”.You can even write down their comments for documentation -which will be pretty fun to review when they grow up.
Avoid the impulse of just asking ‘What is that?’. Instead, you can invite your children to tell you about it in their own words. This also shows your child that you are interested in what he or she thinks and feels, and aren’t’ just confused about what you see.
Another way you can encourage your preschooler’s self-expression through art is by sharing books, videos, and stories that show characters expressing themselves in various art forms. See if your children are interested in a particular form of art and explore it together!
Nurture your children’s spontaneity and curiosity by providing opportunities for your children to test their ideas. The best thing is that art can take place just about anywhere, just make sure your child has the right tools and materials.
Make sure to hang the artwork up in an important place in your home so the entire family can enjoy it!
At JumpinJax, we promote “Messy Art” Education in our curriculum. We like to define Messy Art Education as arts and crafts activities that stimulate artistic sensory exploration, innovation, visual learning, and critical thinking while getting a little messy and very hands-on.
When doing these art projects we don’t ask for the perfect picture, but for whatever picture our students want to create.