For parents who wish to encourage their children to do art at home, I’d like to offer some general principles and suggestions.
1. Parents should be aware that art is not about achieving craftlike results; that the emphasis should be on the creative process. When children are given art materials, they will find the way to put them to use. They will usually put them together in a way that is unique and meaningful to them. So, let the children come up with their own ideas and directions letting them to develop their creative skills.
2. The way in which adults respond to children’s artwork is the key to helping your child’s artistic development. Instead of quickly declaring, “Oh, that’s beautiful,” pay attention to what your child is actually doing, then describe one particular thing you observe. For example, you might say, “I see you used three red patterned papers for your collage.” Or, “I see that that all the blue papers are different in their shapes.” Or, “I see that you drew some circles and bold straight lines.’
3. Always place your emphasis on a positive aspect of the work and avoid being critical, such as stating, “Well, this is not such a good part.’ That can be defeating to a child who is involved with quite another aspect of the work – which is experimenting with materials. Focus on what is actually on paper, not on your own concept of the work, your own agenda. If you start with what you want to see, your child may never meet your requirements. Some adults will talk about what their child hasn’t really done yet. Stay away from referring to what is not on the paper, what the child didn’t do. Avoid comments such as, “Well, you could put something up there in the upper left-corner.”
4. If you want to work alongside the child, this would be in the same spirit of playfulness that the most children express, which is to investigate and explore the materials, rather that taking after their artwork and making art instead of the children. If the situation feels competitive or controlling, it should be avoided. It certainly is not a good idea if the adult is saying, “You should do it this way. You have to put the roof on the house like this.” This kind of approach locks the kids out forever. They will think that there is only one way to do something and it is the way the adult has said it is.
And finally, let the children just be in the moment and playfully explore the wonderful world of colours, shapes, lines and patterns developing their own sense of aesthetics and beauty by simply being exposed to art materials.