Anyone that has ever stepped into a home that includes children has certainly seen a fridge full of art covered in colourful blobs, scribbled designs, and creative messes. What you may or may not be able to figure out is what those pictures represent. Is it a tree, cat or picture of you? Or is it anything more than playing with the colour blue? When it comes to children’s artwork, it ultimately doesn’t matter. Children’s creativity is more about the process of making it, than the final product. That squiggle in fact might be a car going fast. Kids aren’t professional artists and it doesn’t matter if the final piece is a masterpiece or not. What you want to encourage is the continued pleasure in making it, because with a little more practice they just might be.
So how do you encourage your children to make art and show them that you care? A little conversation goes a long way. Try talking to your children about their art. Not only will this show your children that you care, but it gets them thinking about their artwork as well. If you are at a loss as to how to talk about the purple blot surrounded by brown lines, don’t worry. There is a story in that art, you just have to figure out how to find it.
Examples of Words of Encouragement
- How did you make that shade of green?
- Wow, you filled the entire page with your painting!
- You’ve used lots of different lengths of lines in your picture.
- That looks just like the flowers in our garden!
- I think our trip to the fire station inspired this picture with all that red.
- Why did you use those colours in your painting?
- Where did you start drawing? Why?
- What do you like best about your picture?
- Which picture are you going to take off the bulletin board to make room for your new one?
- Do you think Grandma would like this one for her fridge?
- Tell me about your picture.
- Point out their use of colour, space, lines, and/or other elements: Instead of asking your child what their art is or giving blanket praise to everything they create, comment on the elements within the art. Talk about what you see and recognize, like the colours, spaces between them, and the lines that bring them together. This shows that you are engaged and understand the process that your child has gone through.
- Draw comparisons to life, the world, or other artists: Many artists try to recreate images in their artwork, for example in portraits, landscapes, still life’s and more. Draw comparisons between your child’s art and beyond. Point out similarities and see where the conversation leads.
- Encourage critical thought: There is so much more to art than what you see on the page. What inspired your child’s artwork? What made them interpret it in the way they did? How can you get your child to talk more about the process they went through in making their art?
- Offer pride of placement: Now that you have your child’s new art, what do you do with it? Here is another way that you can involve your child. Ask them where they would like to display their newest artwork. Would they like it on the fridge, bulletin board, on their bedroom door or wall? Remember that every new piece that gets displayed means that an old one gets taken down, so having them choose builds pride and ownership.
- Don’t assume what it is: Talking about your child’s art is a wonderful way to have your child feel like you care about it, until you guess what the picture is and get it completely wrong. Children can quickly get discouraged, declare they are no good and give up on art altogether. What you think might be helpful guessing, could blow up in your face, so try not to always assume the topic of your child’s art. Instead, let them take the lead in explaining their art.