After exploring art with my children and figuring out what works (and what doesn’t work), I found Susan Striker’s perspective as an artist refreshing and insightful. For parents who are disappointed with the teacher-influenced (and often completed) art projects sent home with their children, this book opens up a world of possible positive alternative experiences with art. Children too often are asked to make art that looks like something or fits the mold of a holiday decoration. A child’s creativity is often squashed and their experimentation with art materials is set aside so that they can take home something that the teacher has decided “looks good.”
Young at Art: Teaching Toddlers Self-Expression, Problem-Solving Skills, and an Appreciation for Art explains the creative process that is age appropriate for children from ages 1 and up. If you are busy (what parent isn’t?) and you don’t have much reading time, grab this book from the library and just read the first 2 chapters. These alone contain 80% of the gems of information in the book. The second half of the book is mostly reference and material that isn’t necessary to understanding the author’s point.
Susan’s book helped me to understand the importance of scribbling and the stages of scribbling. She convinced me that using one color at a time (each color for a length of time) is best for a young child. Children are, and should be, more focused on the process, not the product of art. It is the feel of the crayon on the paper, the brush in the paint, or the fingers in the clay that intrigues them. What it looks like in the end isn’t important. Through their discovery process, and as they grow, they will begin to develop interest in what the lines and marks on the paper create. This is how to encourage an artistic child.
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