Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Encouraging Creativity in Preschoolers

1. Provide your child with art supplies and let them use them. (I sometimes want to say, "Don't use so much paper." As an adult, I think about waste. But my daughter is thinking about how to put what she's feeling onto paper, and sometimes she's dissatisfied with the result. There's a difference between wasting and exploring.)

2. Instead of asking, "What is that?" ask, "Tell me the story of your painting." (You can ask your child if he or she wants you to write it down.)

3. Some people believe adults should avoid telling children, "That's beautiful." I can't. My child's painting is beautiful. Every brushstroke. In addition to "That's beautiful," I remind myself to make observations. I say, "You made a blue curve there." Be specific. What elements did your child make (straight line, curved line, angled line, dot, circle)? And what colors did he or she use?
4. You can also ask your child if he or she liked making their painting. You can say, "You look like you had so much fun," or "You look so happy." If your child is frustrated, you can ask what they don't like about their painting and ask them how they can solve the problem. It might involve more paper. This isn't being wasteful. It's problem-solving.

5. Sometimes we adults think an image should look a certain way. For example, my daughter has been going through a phase where she makes her people with only two fingers on each hand. Instead of telling her that her people should have five fingers on each hand, I asked her how many fingers she had, and how many fingers the people in her artwork had, and if she wanted to give them more. She said she didn't, and we left it at that. What I mean by this is, if you think your child's painting should have a blue sky, instead of saying, "You should make a blue sky," ask your child if they want to give their painting a sky.

6. Along the same lines, instead of telling your child what colors certain items should be (for example, "Trees are brown and green"), ask your child what colors they want to use. (Van Gogh, Matisse, Gauguin, and Chagall did not paint their trees brown and green.)

7. If you want your child to write her name on her paper, ask if you can write her name and where she would like you to write it.

8. If your child dislikes his work and wants his work to look like another child's painting, acknowledge your child's frustration, and ask your child how he can solve the problem.

9. Instead of drawing for your child or fixing her work, ask your child questions to help her think through solving the problem. Ask what she wants to draw. Find her a picture to look at. Ask her where she wants to draw it on her paper and what colors she wants to use. Discuss how to break the object into simple shapes. Curved lines. Angled lines.

Ultimately, it's about giving your child ownership of their work and instilling in your preschooler the belief that solving problems feels good. :)

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