One thing I think we need to be aware of as parents is creating a situation where we expect our children to do something “right” when there isn’t really a wrong answer. Art is one of those times. As parents, we find cute crafts and art projects and envision what adorable things our kids will make. But honestly, Pinterest-worthy crafts are not developmentally appropriate. Also, making cookie-cutter cute items isn’t letting your child explore their creativity.
Setting No Expectations
When I make crafts with my kids, I let them “fail” to make the craft look like the example. It was their project, and if they didn’t follow the directions, that was their choice. Children deserve the opportunity to make their art however they want to do it. This meant they know they own what they do. Their art might not turn out like the example, but that doesn’t matter.
They may even fail to make art they like. That’s okay, too. You can learn a lot from failing. Often more than success teaches you. How will you know what happens if you add too much paint until you do it at least once? What happens if you add water to the paint? If you mix all the paint colors, what do you get? Children’s art projects are one of the safest places a child can experiment with failure and alternate forms of success. Not every success looks like the instructions. It may not even look like what they were trying to make. But you can be happy with something that is different than your goal.
For The Sake of The Craft
So, I encourage you to let your children make art and let go of your expectations. Put down a drop cloth. Let them do art outside. Make a safe place for them to explore what they can do, and relax. Make your own art. Ignore the mess. Have a cup of tea and remind yourself how good it is for your child’s fine motor skills that they are making art.
If you wander through an art museum and compare the works of Jackson Pollack, Monet, Picasso, Grandma Moses, and Georgia O’Keefe you can quickly see that there are no clear rules for what makes good art. Good art can be monochromatic or include a rainbow of colors. It can be realistic or abstract. So, let your child be an artist and make art that makes them happy. Whether they are slinging paint or making realistic sketches, they are exploring art. Art shouldn’t have “right” answers. It should be something that makes the artist happy, even if it doesn’t make their mom happy.
So, add art to your homeschool week, and hang up whatever your child creates. Hang it up even if it is weird, especially if it is weird. That is the best art.
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.