Art – the expression of human creative skill and imagination. Art for young children should be an outlet for their creativity and imagination. So often we see art “projects” created by teachers and glued together by children. This process does not allow children to learn about different modes of art or to express themselves.
Children use their fine motor skills to handle brushes, sponges, mosaic pieces, glue, etc. Being allowed to express themselves builds self-confidence and imagination. Children can express their feelings through art if they are given time, materials, and support. Art helps to increase children’s story-telling and conversational skills when an adult asks about their work. Working side-by-side with peers allows children time to practice and improve their social skills. When children are introduced to new art mediums such as clay, oil paints, cardboard, 3-D objects, chalk, watercolors, plaster, etc., their brains are engaged and new connections are made. Their cognitive skills improve as they are given opportunities to explore new materials and practice cause and effect.
It is important that we value the work of children. Ask permission before writing a child’s name on the front of their work. They may prefer you put it on the back or, better yet, create a name card for their work and display it as one would in a gallery. We can’t always assume children want their work displayed. They should be given the choice of what happens with their work.
Encourage teachers to put out new materials each week. It is more important for children to experience the process rather than worry about the product. No two pieces of art should look the same. Paint, markers and paper should always be available to children. Other items that can be added could include tissue paper, scissors, glue, small squares of construction or colored paper, pipe cleaners, small pieces of drinking straws, magazines, felt, dough and stickers*.
*Materials should be age appropriate and not present a choking hazard for children.