Painting is one of the most vibrant ways that young children can experience the wonder of Art. Exploring the world of colours, textures, lines and forms can not only help children express their creativity and emotions but facilitate physical, cognitive and social development too.
The following article provides strategies on how you can encourage children with painting.
Introduce children to paints of different types like watercolour, tempera, acrylics and even oils. Among the many purposes of art in early childhood education is to provide a varied sensory diet and this can happen when children are encouraged to explore different paints and textures. Also give children access to a variety of materials like coloured pencils, chalk, play dough, markers, crayons, oil pastels and tools to work with like brushes, cotton balls, Q-tips, scissors and stamps. Make things even more interesting by mixing in unexpected materials like dry leaves, cut vegetables and uncooked pasta but ensure that all art materials are non-toxic materials and children can experience the process without injury.
Set the scene
It is important to create the right physical environment for young children to paint – like large pieces of paper so that they can freely use their arms and bodies as well as a variety of brush sizes to experiment with lines and also find what they can easily control. It is a good idea to offer smaller quantities of paint so that there are fewer spills and children can mix colours without wasting paint. Also, see that easels are kept at an appropriate height and chairs are from tables to allow children to stand and paint if they wish. As far as possible, ensure that children paint in natural light and have access to a range of influences, ranging from still life indoors and natural scenes outdoors to the works and styles of famous artists from around the world,
Build children’s sense of agency by equipping them will the skills to paint independently. For example, show them where art supplies are kept and encourage them to come forward when they wish to paint or wish for specific supplies. Also helping them learn practical skills like how to clip paper to an easel or tape to a table, where to place it for drying and how to clean up properly will help them feel more self-assured in their artistic explorations.
Show interest in what a child is creating with open-ended questions and comments like “Tell me about your picture” or, “I noticed you are pushing your brush flat”. Then wait to see how they respond – they may think about what you just said or just wish to get on with their painting. When they seem ready to share, think of thought-provoking questions, like, “How did pushing your brush flat help you with your painting – did it make the lines bigger or smaller?”. Such questions and comments not only encourage children to think about their use of colours, shapes and art materials but help them form connections between ideas, emotions, form as well as cause and effect.
Focus On Process
Above all, it keeps the focus firmly on the process and not the final product. When children feel they are expected to make their paintings look a certain way, they not only lose agency but eventually interest as well. Even when they are exploring a technique like finger-painting, avoid pointing out any correct or right method to do it – model it once or twice and then let children do it however they wish to.
Giving children a creative outlet can help relieve stress and work through things happening in their lives. By encouraging artistic expression, you can help facilitate learning.
Painting With Young children, PSU
Introduction To Visual Arts In EC, Education Hub
How Art Helps Children Thrive, University Of Wollongong Australia
The Art Of Creating, Michigan State University