I read quite a number of blogs by Mums about their children and I have noticed that the term ‘art’ as it relates to children is used to mean many different things. To me, an experience can only truly be described as ‘art’ if it provides an opportunity f0r the child to express their individual creativity; ‘art’ includes an element of originality – an original thought or plan, and/or an original response to the creative media. I think the term ‘art’ sometimes becomes confused with ‘craft.’ To me, craft is less about the creativity and more about reproducing an idea seen previously or practising a technique with a specific medium (eg. the initial stages of learning to crochet or knit).
It is important for adults to remember that a child’s initial responses to a new creative medium are not about making art but are instead about exploring and experimenting with the materials. Children need to be given time for unhurried, uninterrupted exploration of a new material without having to ‘make’ something, time to freely explore the material’s properties and capabilities. Adults should not expect that the marks on the page always have to represent something, sometimes they are just marks on the page made during the exploration process.
Children who have had sufficient time and opportunity to experiment with a material (and who are at an appropriate level are development) are more likely to be ready to learn control over the material and to use it in a more controlled manner to express themselves and their ideas.
Children will who experience new, interesting, or exciting ideas and experiences have much to ‘say’ about their world and it is this combination of childhood experiences and the encouragement to express these ideas through a creative medium that is truly ‘art.’
For more about young children’s art and learning, including fabulous ideas to get you creating, check out my book – Time to Create: Hands On Explorations in Process Art for Young Children.