After participating in many children's art classes and projects, I'm convinced that most leaders spend a lot of energy attempting to control the final work of art. Interestingly, children actually benefit from less control and more freedom over their art projects.
What happens when you stop managing the outcome?
- Kids naturally use their unique perspective and capabilities to create
- Kids build self-esteem
- Kids are free to explore ideas and techniques
- Kids use their creativity
- Kids gain independence by directing their own art
- Kids learn from each other
How do you break the habit of managing the outcome?
- Do not invest yourself in the finished artwork. Work toward not caring about the final product. When you let go of that facet of the project, suddenly it's just another creative experience.
- Increase creative adventures. Decrease step-by-step projects. Show kids different ways to use a specific medium, such as acrylic or pastels. Or teach a concept, such as shading or painting, but without a specific outcome in mind. Share a basic technique, concept or process and the kids are free to explore in their own way. You will be amazed by what happens!
- Focus on the experience. This is where doing art with kids is precisely like art journaling! It's the process, the experience, the colors, the joy of creating something.
- Make art part of everyday life. Your patience will grow as you build experience. The more creative activities, the less riding on each individual experience.
- Set up art space and materials to minimize stress. For babies that can grasp a crayon, tape paper to their high chair and let them scribble. For kids under 7, try a short table with a laminate top that cleans easily. Tape newspaper or butcher block paper to the floor around the table. Kids of any age enjoy doing art outside on a porch at a plastic kiddie table or in the garden on a blanket. Older kids can work at the breakfast table. Make some place in your home or classroom a place for art.
- Organize for a smooth set-up and clean-up process. Group art supplies that are used together in clear lidded boxes. For example, rubber stamps + stamping ink, watercolors + brushes, beads + string, block printing ink + brayers + linocutting tools, embroidery floss + scissors + needle threader + hoop, play-doh with plastic shaping tools. This works for your art supplies as well!
Check out all of the posts in the series on micro-managing kids' art!