Child Led Art/The Process not the Product
The easiest way to see how Early Years Education is moving forward, is we’re seeing less of the almost identical green leprechauns for St. Patrick’s Day or 22 Santa Claus’s for Christmas Day. These days, templates are becoming a thing of the past. Children are learning from their experiences. They’re cutting, they’re gluing, they’re folding, they’re sticking, they’re using their hands and they’re doing it all themselves. So what is the outcomes from letting children “Do it themselves”. Classrooms are less stressful! Preschool teachers aren’t trying to churn out identical arts and crafts. The children are enjoying the making and doing and building learning stories. Early Years Professionals are displaying exactly what it is the children achieved from perhaps their not so perfect, not so pristine arts and crafts. This enables parents to get a true understanding of their child and what they’ve learned. No better way to truly display what Aistear is all about. The children learning from their experimenting, from their doing it themselves, from their trial and error and showing their true enjoyment as they get stuck in. I recall myself being in Primary School and always ecstatic when the teacher told us, we could paint.
Why is Child Led Art so good and so necessary?
Through getting creative, children are “experiencing a spiritual dimension in life, (which) enhances children’s sense of well-being”. They are using their own knowledge, they are using their common sense and in a world of uncertainty, “being flexible and having a positive outlook on learning and on life is crucial”. In turn, we will create resilient, resourceful, robust adults, ready to “learn to cope with change and situations in which things go wrong”. (NCCA, 2009).
Self-esteem and self-confidence
Through doing the task and completing it, although the process is more important than the end result, children are becoming confident in their own abilities and are achieving independence. From the day a child is born, s/he is striving to be independent. Child led art is no different, through letting them do it himself, they master their own abilities and grasp what they can or can’t do.
Being V Becoming
So often we are preparing them for the next class, or the next school or for the future. But we need to let children be just children and appreciate the now. “It’s about the child’s life in the present as a young child in the ‘here and now’. The early years of life are just as important and as much a part of life as any later life stage”. In other words, letting children be children and as the slogan you see on social media says “let the children play”.
Sharing, communication and social skills
Often child led art, may be in group activities, here the children have to learn to share, how to manoeuvre how they’ll get some piece of equipment or art piece, meaning they need to rely on their communication skills and social skills to achieve/complete their task, skills which are essential in their future lives.
How can we support child led art?
- Have painting easels, painting materials freely available, these materials should be low down for easy access. Children should be given choice.
- There should be a choice of arts and crafts materials such as: paper, card, different colours and sizes.
- A dedicated area should be set up for arts and crafts. That doesn’t mean it should be confined to just that spot. Children should also have the opportunity to work outdoors.
- Children should be given the opportunity to work with all different materials, paint (oil, water, poster), pastel chalks, blackboard chalk, markers, colouring pencils, crayons and so on.
- Allow children to have access to rulers, scissors, punches and rubbers.
- There should be access to different materials such as feathers, pompoms, and so on. Recreate in Dublin http://recreate.ie/ have access to recycled materials which can be great to allow children to use their imagination. Also your own recyclables can be used, once cleaned. Ask parents to bring in some from home too.
- You could display works of art from famous artist (Picasso, Leonardo de Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, etc) you could also display local artists work in the art area. It may give the children inspiration for their art.
- Could you create an art exhibition? Is their a local library or a local cafe/ or community area, where the children’s art could be displayed for the community to see?
- Can you get painting outside? Create a whole group mural? Whether inside the garden grounds or if you’re adventurous an outside wall.