7 Tips on responding to your Child’s Art Work the right way!
All of us as parents love and are proud of our children’s artistic works. We know that their art and its expression form an important part of their growing up years.
We cherish the rough raw paintings they make on charts as toddlers, hang their artwork around the house, take everyone possible to their creative performances and keep everything tucked away to be cherished in the future. Arts are as such very meaningful to parents and their children. And why not, since they are expressive of the child’s inherent talents.
Just as we cherish and appreciate the art of our children, they would also like to see how we as parents and teachers respond to their artistic work. This is an area where many of us fall short, because interpreting and responding to it is something that most of us aren’t aware of. Yet, it is of utmost importance that parents talk and engage with their children about their creative work.
Our work with showcasing famous art works at schools has taught us that children love and welcome any feedback that anyone can give about their art works. We have therefore compiled a few suggestions on how to respond to them, to get you started in the right direction;
1. Be thoughtful.
When your little artist has put in so much effort into his art work, he expects some reaction. Generic praise that we most often use, ‘Wow, that’s great!” may be good, but also tells the child that we aren’t really listening or interested. This can be immensely discouraging. On the other hand, being overly critical and pointing out a defect can dent his budding creative talent. It is therefore best to ask your child and encourage him to express what he is doing well and what areas need improvement. Once the areas have been identified as needing improvement, offer help of some kind which either you yourself can provide or a trained artist can. Even if he says no, accept that, but be open to lending a hand whenever he/she is ready for your help.
2. Don’t take over.
When parents have a special interest in the child’s art, it can happen that they get too intrusive. But this is when you have to hold yourself back. Allow your child to find their own way and participate only when they invite you into their work. Let us for example take the fact that you are an artist, and this has been something that you have worked on your entire childhood and adulthood. It is natural to want your children to pursue it too. What you can therefore do, is take your children to museums and shows. Talk to them afterward about their thoughts and experience, and let them know that you will take them again. Whenever they are ready and want to go back, do it. But if they don’t want to pursue it, let them still know that the invitation stands. After seeing a Van Gogh’s painting, they might be inspired to paint like Andy Warhol and that is also perfectly alright.
3. Think beyond yes and no.
Always use open-ended questions when talking to your child or asking them to explain their work and listen closely while they are doing it. Ask questions like “Tell me about your craft work” rather than asking, “What is that?” Questions like “What was your inspiration for this artwork?” helps encourage young artists to verbalize their artistic thinking and process. This can also help them self-reflect.
4. Teach us art concepts.
A great way to reinforce learning and build mastery over the subject is asking them to teach you about arts concepts and skills. The child will love showing an adult how things are done.
5. Emphasize the process.
The art work you see in front of you, is the outcome of your child’s hard work. The process to get to the end product is equally valuable as the product itself. Kids too love the effort that goes into it and expect parents to focus on it. Working on a piece of art involves students CREATING, REVISING, POLISHING and PERSEVERING. These invaluable experiences will shape your child both inside and outside arts. This is true in every art form, music, dance, and even theater.
6. Effort counts.
An important fact that is important to understand in this entire artistic process, is that every art work will not be perfect (or even good). The point to remember, is that there is a lot of effort that goes into the creation, which is what should ultimately matter. Every artistic form has different technical skills. And while not every child may be artistically gifted, every child can develop the skills with education and practice. Encourage PRACTICE, because that is the key!
7. Let their light shine.
When you see your child showing real interest in an art form, find ways to showcase their talent, share their work if they are alright with it. When it comes to visual works, catalog them, and photograph them to make an online library of his accomplishments. This applies to other art forms too. Take videos and recordings of dance performances, and encourage them to collect and store their body of work.
YOU as Parents are an artist’s first and often best audience. Whether your little artist wants to forge a career in arts or do it out of momentary interest, your support, encouragement, and commitment can form the backbone their artistic work and the basis of their viewpoint. Arts, since time immemorial have been valuable ways for kids to understand life and the world around them. And you as parents play the most crucial part.