Our kiddos make such treasures during preschool and elementary school. I have portfolios filled with finger paintings, drawings, collages, stories and more. It is so free, so expressive and so honest. I’ve recently stumbled upon my boys’ artwork and realized the works of art that really stand out to me are the ones that they created all on their own. No help from a teacher. No strict instructions. Fully expressive to who they are.
Process vs. product is a hefty topic when discussing early childhood art experiences. We see this daily in our art classrooms and often have conversations about this very topic with our parents and educators. Why is it so important that during these early developmental years to offer more process art experiences then product? Here are a few characteristics, eye-opening tips and reasons on the importance of letting our kids explore, play and discover when they are creating.
Process-focused art revolves around offering open ended materials with no direct instructions. Samples are not shown. Mistakes can’t be made and the experience is calming and relaxing. Lots of excitement follows like “look what I made” or “can I show you how I did this?” The art work is unique!
Product-focused art has instructions for children to follow and has a finished product in mind. There is a right and wrong way to proceed. Mistakes may be more apparent and often children become frustrated. One could even hear, “I can’t do this.” Art work may even look similar to other classmates.
In these early childhood years, process focused art tremendously benefits children: social and emotional skills are elevated: children feel successful, are relaxed and can express their feelings. Cognitive skills are sharpened: children predict, plan and problem solve. Physical skill sets are refined: children use fine-motor skills and we even see a direct correlation to pre-writing skills.
So, get out those easels, papers, scissors and markers and make an “art zone” in your house or classroom so your child or student can express themselves, have a joyful time creating and build resilience and grit. Essential life skills we know they will need…and make sure they are having fun!
See you in art class!