May 8, 2014

Parent and Child: Creating Art Together

Parent and Child: Creating Art Together

Some parents ask: Is it good to create art along side my child?  My answer: It depends on how it's done.  Here are some thoughts that may be helpful.

The Value of Play

Playing with a child is one of the most important means of communication an adult can have.  It tells the child: I think you are important, and I want to spend time with you in this special way.  Children get the message in a language that speaks louder than words.


The Value of Art

When young children create art, it is pure play.  They don't care what they're making. It's all about the doing. They love using their senses to manipulate paint, paper, crayon, etc. All the while, they are learning how to be creative.   

As children age, their art experience changes.  They still enjoy the process, but it is more thought driven.  They love to ask questions and experiment: What if I mix these two colors together?  What if I scratch the paint with my fingers while it's wet?  For older children, the fun is in trying new things.  All the while, they are using their creativity to be inquisitive and to solve problems.   

The Value of Adult Involvement in the Art Process

When adults take an active role and create art right along side their child, it validates the importance of the art process.  It can also be a fun, interesting, and educational bonding experience that the child will remember all his/her life. I'm a Grandma now, but I still remember with fondness the times my Mom got down on the floor and colored with me.

However, children who've received a critical response about their art from adults often become critical of themselves. They may become so inhibited that they refuse to create art. It's very important that adults involve themselves with the right spirit.  But what is the right spirit?  Keep reading for more ideas.

Creating art along side a child can be a valuable experience if:

  • the adult has a playful spirit
It is most important to keep things playful.  Let your own child-like spirit come out.  Don't worry about what your art looks like, just have fun.  Become absorbed in the art experience like you did when you were a child.  At first it may feel odd, but don't give up.  Those 'kid memories' are still inside you.  With a little practice, you will be able to access them again.

  •  the adult let's the child take the lead
If your child is into scribbling, sit down and scribble along side, but match your scribbling to your child's. If s/he is using one crayon, then you use one crayon.  After a while, you can try to introduce a new idea, but make sure it's something your child is ready to learn.  If you think your child can hold two crayons at one time, say something like this:  I wonder what it would be like to scribble with two crayons?  Model the process and wait to see what happens.  If your child tries it and likes it, tell him/her how cool it looks.  If your child shows no interest or becomes frustrated, let the idea go for a few weeks. 

  • the adult limits their involvement
It's important that a child have plenty of time to create art independently (with you near by to assist and/or supervise).  Independence helps develop confidence and self esteem.

Limit your involvement to special times.  Wait until you get an invitation or ask for permission to join.  It will send the message that you respect the child's space.  

So go ahead, when the time seems right, and work along side your child.  Keep it special.  Keep it playful.   And it will be good for both of you.  Let yourself go and enjoy.

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