Painting with young children. There is more to the picture.
What children learn through painting and what painting activities can be offered to young children. Painting in early childhood education and care is part of its natural landscape. We see easels filled with a whole range of vivid colors, just waiting to be discovered. What does painting with young children really offer? Are they too small? What do we need?
Why painting is so valuable?
Caregivers can plan the painting, to fill part of the timesheet, but most educators discover, that painting becomes more than just a simple activity. Painting is a way for children to do many important things: conveying ideas, expressing emotions, using your senses, discovering colors, study of the process and results, and the creation of aesthetic works and experiences.
Are they too small?
Most educators attach importance to painting with very young children. It is important to, to take all safety factors into account, such as non-toxic materials and the ability to experience the process without being injured. Even very young children can dip their fingers into the paint mixture and spread it on a table or tray.
Children make up a lot of connections and ideas for this, how the painting process works for them, and also what they like about it. Watch the child painting, and you'll see them fully engaged. We can almost see the baby's thoughts, such as: “When I slide the brush flat, my line gets bigger”, or “I like to mix it up, but I don't want to put it on paper or touch it”, or “I mixed red with more red and orange, and got a fiery red color!”.
Listening and watching, we can begin to understand the way, how the child perceives his world, its development opportunities, as well as needs or interests.
Both adults, and children can be inspired by other artists (famous or not!), books, museums, nature, resource directories, art shops, and even just everyday materials, ideas and experiences.
It is a good idea to educate your children, how to prepare for self-painting. Encourage children to ask to paint, as well as materials to be used. Familiarize children with the place where materials are stored, a way of pinning paper to an easel or tape to a table, drying area and proper cleaning steps.
Offer a valuable painting experience.
The calming process of painting is often that, what interests young children. Pleasant feeling of painting over and over again, perhaps using two brushes or fingers, is it, what is important. We must encourage such experiences, that will interest the child, not an adult. With the development of children, they become more focused on creating representations and conveying ideas.
Young children need large sheets of paper (to have full range of motion), as well as different sizes of brushes for experimenting (find it, which works best for control). Consider offering smaller amounts of paint, so that children can deal with fewer paint spills and can mix colors without destroying large paint containers. The mixing of colors ensures endless discoveries.
Painting places should be adapted to the child's physical abilities. Easels should be at the appropriate height or have stable platforms that allow for height adjustment. Move the chairs off the tables, so that children can stand and paint, if they want to. Very young children can be kept on your lap or sit on the floor with an adult.
It is important that children respond to and encourage their painting to do so. Check first, whether the invitation is open to conversation. A good way to start might be to describe it, what you see: “Your image has long blue lines and orange circles”. Wait for the child's reaction; they may want to share more with you or just go back to their picture. Obstruction may disrupt the painting process.
When the children seem ready to share their insights, think about the thought provoking questions. “I see, that you used red and yellow. What other colors could you use and where to put them?” or “This part of your card is filled with pink and white spots. What do you want to do with the image next?” or “What will you do with the image, when it will be finished?”.
Painting with young children allows us to see much more than just a simple painting. If we watch closely, we can get enormous information about each child. We can share this with families, what we discovered and why we consider it important. We can create enjoyable experiences and support development at the same time; what a masterpiece it is!