Art in early childhood education plays a critical role in the development of creativity. The way we present art to a preschooler will indeed have a direct effect on how that child explores and develops creatively. We must be certain that we offer children the freedom of creative expression and exploration. We can do this several ways; we can offer children a variety of art mediums, we can be diligent about keeping directions to a bare minimum, and most importantly we need to foster artistic expression without judgment or criticism.
As teachers we should be asking ourselves the following questions; what am I really teaching my students through this activity? Does this project inspire them to think creatively and express themselves uniquely? Are the children being offered the opportunity to explore and discover the materials set before them? The answers to these questions should help you ascertain whether you have planned the “product” or if you are embracing the process.
The experiential process of art is far more important that the finished product, especially in early education. Process based art focuses on the experience and celebrates any outcome. Keep in mind that having an outcome or an objective does not necessarily mean that an activity does not involve a process. There can be a product that will result. However the child is still encouraged to explore the art process in their own unique way. There are certainly occasions where a product is appropriate. Examples of this include theme focused projects, holiday gifts or cards, and group/class collaborative art activities.
To further demonstrate the difference between a child-led, process based activity and a product centered project I did my own little experiment with Biscuit….
This morning we made tissue paper flowers on posterboard. For the first run I told Biscuit we were going to make the flowers and gave her a good amount of direction. Such as where to place the “stems” and how to form the “petals.” Here is what happened…..
The next time around I simply laid out the supplies and told her that she was going to make her own flower. I stood back and did not say a word. Here is how her flower turned out…..
Let’s compare the outcomes…
Happy Playing & Exploring!!