I have been an advocate for process art for a long time and see the value in allowing children the opportunity to create freely. It is an essential tool for fostering creative expression and even developing expressive language…2 things that will serve them well in their school years and beyond!
But he other day, while I was sitting with my son in our playroom watching him colour and cut and glue an abstract work of art, it occurred to me that providing the opportunity to explore materials in a process over product type of way also teaches another valuable skill that helps prepare your child for Kindergarten.
When you search up “what my child needs to know for kindergarten” often missing is a mention of something along the lines of “knows how to use a variety of art materials appropriately”
When children start exploring art materials, it is a largely sensorial experience. They don’t begin by carefully painting a rainbow or glueing different shapes together to resemble a robot. Their initial interactions might look more like slathering their hands and paper in cool, wet, squishy paint until all the cours blend together and there isn’t a blank spot on the page…or squeezing out the entire contents of a glue bottle slowly with no intention of sticking anything to it!
It is important to note that these are 100% developmentally appropriate stages for budding artists to go through!!
Eventually they will select specific colors and paint detailed pictures or use a reasonable amount of glue…but they’ve got to have the chance to check the sensory experiences off their list first!
So, when I say process art is important in preparing children for kindergarten…I want you to imagine a kindergarten teacher with 20+ students all experiencing glue or paint for the first time and the chaos that might ensue! By giving your child the chance to explore these materials freely before they hit the classroom, they will be better able to exercise care and control with the supplies at school…and their teachers are sure to thank you! 😉
Here are 5 tips for teaching your little one to use art materials responsibly (without stifling their creativity!)
- Introduce one new material at a time and give your little one the chance to explore it fully.
- Demonstrate the materials by creating alongside your little one. Rather than just watching and saying “I think that’s enough glue” on repeat, just let them explore while you use the materials yourself beside them so they can witness it in action for themselves.
- Portion materials so your child can explore freely without using up your whole art cupboard in one sitting! Use small squeeze bottles or cups for paints or glue so you can give them an amount that you are comfortable with them using without having to tell them to stop!
- Include your child in the clean up! Teach them where to put used paintbrushes and palettes for washing (or provide a bin of soapy water and a sponge for them to wash on their own). Have a specific area to put wet artwork to dry and have them help put away other materials like scissors and markers.
- Display their art so they feel a sense of pride and ownership over their work and the process!
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