Thursday, July 14, 2011

Toddler art

There is something so absolutely refreshing about doing arts and crafts with a two-year old. It is completely about the process, without any judgement on the outcome.

This freedom is something we lose early on and may spend a lifetime trying to get back.

When Miya draws, paints, glues, etc. it seems to be for the sheer fun of it. There seem to be no concerns about whether a line is correctly drawn, whether the chosen colour is the ‘right one’. She has fun experimenting with colour and things like glue, glitter, stickers, etc.

And while to many the outcome may just look like the scribbles of a toddler, it is exactly this that I find so fabulous about them. Once she starts actually trying to draw houses, trees, people, cats, flowers... well, then we’ll be moving toward judgement. She’ll begin questioning whether what she did reflects what she was aiming for. She’ll start comparing the house she drew to the house the kid next to her drew. She’ll learn that grass is green and the sky is blue and that she’s supposed to colour within the lines. How can I help her hang on to making art just for the pleasure of putting colour on paper?

Generally, we’ve been working hard to avoid that instinctive ‘good job!’ for everything our child does. I hear kids being praised all the time for standing, for drinking water, for splashing in the pool, for going down the slide... We’d like to encourage our daughter to do such things for her own reasons, or do them simply because they are normal things to do, not so that she will receive our approval or praise.

This is especially true when it comes to arts and crafts; we’re being very careful to not put our own judgement on the things she does (that’s beautiful!) or to suggest that art is a chore to be done for approval (good work!).

There is going to be enough time ahead for judgment and competition. Right now I’m doing all I can to hold on the glorious freedom I see in her when she bangs away with her markers and splashes with her paints.

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