I have always found a purpose in art. The creative process provides me with time to think and space to express my feelings; but it wasn’t always that way! Being a bit of a perfectionist, it was hard to let go of the “cookie-cutter” crafts. I wanted so badly to be good at art that I completely missed the beauty in the process.
Enter in preschoolers.
I truly began to learn what it meant to “color outside of the lines” when I started teaching preschool. It was stressful mixing young children with art, especially when I had specific steps and a finished product in mind. But, each time a child veered from my expectation, I learned to simplify, step back, and let my students create.
Art is about the process.
You see, what I wish I would have embraced a lot sooner is that art is about the process. It is about exploring how different colors mix, experimenting with how tools work, and uncovering what you find beautiful. Now as a parent to a 13-month-old, I want nothing more than to help her discover her own creative process!
Tips and Tricks
Process art comes naturally to young children; it is often adults who need support in embracing the creative process. It will take time, if this is new to you, but trying these tips and tricks will help!
- Designate a messy zone. Process art can get messy, and knowing that beforehand helps you prepare! Ask yourself, “Where am I okay with a mess?” Maybe all you need is an old bedsheet to cover the floor. Check out The Parenting Junkie for more ideas!
- Try no-mess process art. If the mess isn’t for you, then Saran wrap and Ziploc bags will be your best friend! Pro-tip: Use two bags so those pesky fingernails don’t break through.
- Provide open-ended art materials. Don’t over think it – blank paper, crayons, scissors, and glue can go a long way! As a teacher, you are always thinking about the environment. I found an art cart to be the best way to give my students access to materials while keeping them organized. Try at home!
- Use recycled toys, papers, and containers. In my classroom, we always had a recycle bin for paper and miscellaneous items found in the class (e.g. marker caps, missing puzzle pieces, LEGO arms, etc.). It was the “junk drawer” of our classroom! We kept the recycle bin in our art center, and my students knew that they could use anything in that bin for art projects. I cannot wait to try this with my daughter at home!
- Step back but don’t be afraid to join. Once you lay out the materials (and set a couple ground rules), take a step back and let your child create. Don’t be afraid to make your own art alongside your child and ask questions like, “I see that you put a line there. What are you going to do next?”
- Try not to rush the process. Children need extended time to create. The best way is to let them choose when they are done, but that is not always possible. Sometimes we need to make space in our schedule for free play, and this includes art. One way to do this is to let your child keep out their art project for a couple of days so they can add to it when they feel inspired.