- Early Childhood
“This is for my Mom.”
“How do you draw a unicorn?”
“That’s a train, and a volcano, and that’s my family.”
I hear these comments, stories, and questions on a regular basis. Each day is a new discovery in a preschooler’s world.
Preschoolers are full of life and are creative by nature. They love to explore, make, and create! They tell stories at the drop of a hat and always have a twinkle in their eye. Did I mention they love making a mess and learning by doing? This all adds up to my kind of people, my tribe. I have learned from years of making art with all age groups that the first step in art making is to listen. In the preschool years, you always start by listening. What are they thinking about? Who do they want to draw? What is their story? This method is perfect for our Reggio program and for the beginning of art exploration.
Why Art is Important in Preschool
Art is natural to who we are and how we learn. When we are children, we don’t put pressure on ourselves to produce the perfect piece. We enjoy the process.
Creating art is proven to have numerous benefits beyond the magic of making. According to an article by Casey Lesser on artsy.net, “Kids who grow up making and seeing art - be that visual art, music, dance, theater, or poetry - are not only more empowered to express themselves, they also have stronger language, motor, and decision-making skills, and they’re more likely to excel in other school subjects. And, as they grow up, creativity is an asset for prospective jobs - not just in the arts and creative industries, but beyond it.”
What Preschoolers are Making and Doing in the Art Studio
Preschoolers learn to make marks, lines, shapes, letters, tell stories, and piece their world together. The most important thing I can do in the art-making process is provide an environment for them to explore and for me to listen to what they are making. Listening to their stories, asking questions, and having a conversation related to their artwork adds value and builds their self-confidence. The process is the real beauty of any art studio.
I often read to them and then start an exploratory project. The stories I choose may be based on their Reggio study in the classroom or perhaps about an artist, a line or a shape, or something that will grab their wonder. I try to repeat the basics to help build their drawing language. You can often hear me saying ‘take a line for a walk’ or ‘a line becomes a shape and a shape becomes a picture.’ Once I show them a process or technique, I don’t need to say anymore. I need to get out of their way. It becomes their art, story, and process.
How to Make Art at Home
Simply, start. Provide the time and environment. Put scissors, markers, glue, and paper on the table and explore. Preschoolers are still learning to use materials and love to make. Remember to limit supplies and explore slowly. This will help it to feel less chaotic and more intentional.
After creating, talk to them about their work. It is important not to ask, ‘What is it?’. The only thing I say is ‘tell me about it’. Let them guide you. Understand that the image does not need to match the story. They are still developing skills. Be with them, laugh, and enjoy the ride they will take you on!
Remember … Art is Natural
From the beginning, we have all been creators. The cave art paintings of Lascaux are said to be over 20,000 years old. They show marks of human storytelling with large animals, human figures and abstract signs. We have been making marks and telling stories for thousands of years. It truly is our first language. And, when it is fostered and developed it can be an amazing gift in expressing ourselves and learning what it means to be human.
Make ART! Make a MESS! Make a Memory!
About the Author
Preschool and Middle School Art Teacher
- child development
- early childhood
- visual arts