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 Week of the Young Child: Exploring Art

4/11/2019 12:00 AM

​Art. It can be intimidating. Especially, if you had a bad experience in your life from parents, teachers or other important adults who may have criticized or made you feel uncomfortable about art you created and were very proud of. But, let us try to forget that negativity and focus on teaching our little ones to explore their creative sides. Scientific research has overwhelmingly shown that during the brain's early development, neural connections are being made, and that much of what children do as play-singing, drawing, dancing, etc. are natural forms of art. These simple and appropriate activities engage all the senses and wire the brain for successful learning.

The arts are not only expressive and effective, they are deeply cognitive. The creative brain is developing essential thinking tools – pattern recognition and development, and mental representations of what they observe or imagine. It is so important that parents, teachers and caregivers do everything we can to stoke the flames of creativity and allow our children to express themselves creatively. Children grow and learn through the exploration of different creative mediums. 

How can we teach our children to be good artists? Easy. We don't. They will teach themselves. Every child has the capacity to be a good artist. All we need to do is provide children with diverse and rich exploratory experiences to try different things. We need to provide our children with blank canvases and plenty of materials to try and explore their world. By presenting our little ones with criticism-free opportunities to express themselves, explore different types of mediums and enjoy themselves in the process, they will grow, learn and develop into creative thinkers and problem solvers. 

Our only job with our young ones, when it comes to exploring their creative side, is to introduce new materials and watch them grow. Introduce different types of paint. Not just watercolors, but acrylic, tempera, powder paint and oils. Don't just settle on crayons. Let your children experience colored pencils, oil pastels, chalk, markers and pens. Provide them with glue and found objects (sticks, leaves, paper, string, cans, cups, etc.) to create three-dimensional sculptures. Allow your children to try different types of surfaces to create on. Not just paper, but cardboard, stretched canvas, fabric or wood. Finally, give value to what they create. Don't criticize. Love their work and celebrate it! Hang up their creations.

A somewhat simple activity – Handprint Resist Paintings:

Supplies
• Canvas or watercolor paper
• Pencil
• Water color paint
• Rubber cement
• Your child's hand

Steps
1) Trace your little one's hand onto watercolor paper.
2) Use rubber cement to cover the hand.
3) Let the rubber cement dry.
4) Have your little artist paint with the watercolor. The rubber cement resists the watercolor. 
5) Let the watercolor dry completely.
6) Use those fingers (your and your child's) to gently rub off the dried rubber cement revealing your child's watercolor masterpiece. 

This blog post is part of a series celebrating the Week of the Young Child. The WOYC is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children to focus public attention on early learning, young children, their teachers, families and communities.

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Students create wire letter sculptures.
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