Cultivating Self-Expression

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." -Pablo Picasso

Over the years, educators, psychologists, and philosophers have come to appreciate the value of children’s art and its important role in early childhood education. It is now agreed by many in the field that exploring and creating with art materials helps children become more sensitive to the physical environment; promotes cognitive development and increases their social and emotional development. Young children who are encouraged to engage in expressive art activities also gain a sense of accomplishment and grow toward achieving independence and autonomy.

Fostering an appreciation for and the desire to create art during the early years is not limited to museum trips or formal training. In fact, parents need only provide inexpensive art materials, interest, and encouragement. Following are some useful tips to inspire the Picasso in your child.

  • Provide safe materials. Check labels for warnings about toxins. Drawing tools should be thick enough for young hands to grasp and strong enough to prevent breaking.
  • Demonstrate the use of materials but resist the urge to tell children what to do and how to do it.
  • Limit the use of coloring books. It’s better to have children draw their own pictures and color them by staying within their own lines.
  • Raw materials, such as natural clay, sea shells, and beach sand offer a variety of non-structured possibilities for creativity.
  • Provide an abundant amount of inexpensive paper. Newsprint is ideal for children who wish to make large drawings on the floor, and colored construction paper can be used to create cutout shapes, collages, and paper plate masks.
  • Engage children in conversation about their creations.