Life26 Apr 2010 07:56 am

Do not let the title of this post mislead you. My philosophy is open to change and not complete whatsoever. Neither is it overly complicated or academic. If you have interacted with children in any art form, whether drawing with sidewalk chalk or carving wood, you are sure to have a philosophy as well.

I find it challenging to come up with new art projects at times because Leah and her friends and still so young. Sometimes I have be remind myself that they are only approaching two years old. Usually we do painting, gluing and play dough as well as goop when I am up for a challenge.

At this age, they are mostly focused on the process and not on the end result. Though I want them to take pride in the finished product, even more so I want them to enjoy and discover through art. Before I take away their work to dry, I like to take a few seconds for to draw their eyes what they have accomplished so they can appreciate it. Though I want them to see the end, the main focus still is during the work and what their hands are doing.

While they are working, I like to try get them to think about what they are doing. I want the children to understand what effect their paintbrush, stamp, glue stick, hand etc is having on their paper and to put thought into the process.

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The vast majority of the projects are completely open ended, meaning their is no specific proper way to perform the task. I do teach them proper technique when appropriate. For example, using the paintbrush instead of the hand (except when finger painting of course), keeping the paintbrush on the paper and only getting more paint after you have used the paint on your brush. But in the end, I want them to have performed the project mostly on their own. If I do everything for them, then it really is my art project and not theirs.

The goal is not for everyone’s art to look exactly the same. That is the opposite of the point of art. I want them to use their creativity and to expand it. I do struggle with the urge at times to help them make their art ‘right’. For example, at Easter I drew a bunny and got the children to glue on cotton balls. In the end is it better to have all the cotton balls even and within the confines of the bunny or for the children to use their own discretion and make the project their own?

There are so many things in the life that are absolute and rigid that I don’t believe we should force these same standards when they aren’t necessary at all. The children will all learn in time that two plus two is four. Leah might like to think the answer is five or eleven or be really creative and think one hundred thirty two but she would be wrong. I will correct her until she gets the right answer. Though this rigidity is appropriate in math, she also needs outlets to express herself creatively which I believe art is the perfect medium for.


When I want to show them a special technique like the stamping shown below, I show them how to do it and what effect it has and then let them choose how they want to continue painting. Some of the kids will stamp away and make a cool looking design while others go for the smeared look. In the end, they both did art and learned, discovered and enjoyed. Though one picture might look a lot more accomplished in the end, I want to give the same praise to both. For we have been trained to look for neat and perfect but the joy in the process and work involved was the same and that is of much more importance than perceived perfection.

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In celebrating the process, we can enjoy their short childhood even more. Treasuring the moments of discovery and learning while watching the delight on their faces is amazing. They are worth it.


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