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    « Batik & Plaid Backgrounds | Main | Collection #4 »

    How {Not} to Micro-Manage Kids' Art (Part 2)

    My older daughter's maze in pencil, 8.5" x 11" paper

    To get up to speed, start with Part One of our Sensible Guide, I'll wait for you!

    The creative culture in our home evolved out of our experience in a Reggio Emilia inspired pre-school and trial & error. I've found that you can teach kids process without dictating content. If the kids are interested in fruit, you can pass around an orange and sketch an orange, showing them how to shade the orange. Set out some fruity colors and experiment together in shading techniques. If they draw a canteloupe, so be it. You can set some constraints.

    Some things stand in the way of letting kids experiment:

    <Doing art with children can try your patience> Kids mix mud-colored potions and feed Play Doh to the dog. They step in globs of wet red paint. We are tired. Laundry awaits. Some days are hard.

    <Trying to be super-art-woman> A typical scene unfolds. Materials are placed on the table, but kids first must listen to elaborate instructions. They just want to explore. Rivaling a world-renowned orchestra conductor, teacher/mom gives Patrick blue to paint the sky, tells Rhiannon to glue 4 yellow (no, not orange!) petals on the pre-cut stems, and cuts the rest of Amy's petals because Amy is not cutting them correctly.

    <Investing too much value in the finished artwork> Something drives us to really, really care that the project looks GOOD. Perfectionistic tendencies surface, or we follow the status quo, perhaps we fear embarrassment. Some adults break the cardinal rule and retouch kids' art to make it more uniform or more camera-ready or more lovely! Gasp. It is the children's art, not ours.

    <Trying to meet "other people's" expectations about the finished artwork> Some judge the quality of the art teacher by the kids' finished work. I like to look at the project itself. In fact, I get a little nervous when all of the art looks similar.

    And about the maze above... my older daughter's teacher (at Montessori) engaged the kids in drawing mazes. My daughter played around with the technique. She made mazes in B&W and color, twisty mazes, mazes in marker and pencil, mazes starting at various points on the page, all based on the same concept. It works.

    Check out the entire series on Micro-Managing Kids' Art

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    Reader Comments (3)

    Hear, hear, all great points!


    08.25.2009 | Unregistered CommenterChristie

    I have many "mud" coloured paintings from my boys. They started off as those pre printed "paint by numbers" canvas's.
    But if they like it, then, hey, so do I!

    08.25.2009 | Unregistered CommenterDebra

    That maze is fab!

    Patience - I used to take a few minutes to get all the art supplies out, by which time ds1 was no longer interested. He's a "do it now or not at all" kind of person.

    Ds2 plays with art for hours, so it's much easier now - ds1 drops in and out as he likes. I'm still trying to reorganise the art supplies though ;-)

    08.29.2009 | Unregistered CommenterSam

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