What kind of artwork does your preschooler bring home? The art could be a free-flowing expression of your child’s exploration of art materials. Or, it could be something easily identifiable that your child’s teacher set up and your child happily pieced together. One of these two types of art is much better for preschoolers than the other.
Project art could be described as a “craft”. The preschool teacher presents kids with the exact amount of supplies they need (included pieces that have been pre-cut by the teacher). Kids are to use those pieces in a precise way to make an easily recognizable piece of art. Some examples are: cotton ball snowmen or handprint turkeys
The focus of project art is the finished project. The point is to help kids create art in a step-by-step way that results in something that looks just like all the other kid’s artwork. As a former preschool teacher, I can tell you that project art is usually done because the parents like it (or expect that their child will create it).
Process art is all about the actual process of creating art – and not about the visual end result. It is not presented to a preschooler in a manner that suggest that there is only one right way to do it. Examples of process art include: finger painting with multiple colors (to see how they mix), or drawing on blank paper with crayons (and not using a pre-drawn image from a coloring book).
Preschoolers benefit from making process art. It gives them a way to express themselves that doesn’t require a lot of verbal explanation. Preschoolers can develop their small motor skills by figuring out how to hold a crayon and make a mark with it, or by working out how to get paint onto a brush and then onto a paper. Process art gives kids the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. There is no wrong way to do process art.
Preschoolers benefit from opportunities to be creative and use their imagination. Ask your child to tell you all about the painting or drawing he or she made at preschool. Your child is very likely to tell you a detailed story about what is in the painting, and might explain their decision making process as well. Ask you child about the handprint turkey, and he or she will probably tell you that they made a turkey.
The best thing about process art is that it gives preschoolers the opportunity to experiment and learn from the results. There is a lot of thinking and reasoning behind process art that doesn’t happen with project art.
Image by allie pasquier on Flickr.
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