Friday, October 11, 2013

Talking and Joining In: Tips for Toddler Parents

How should I act when I join my toddler in the Studio? 
How can I be a part of their exploration without disrupting their investigation? 
Here is our Center’s culture around
talking about children’s work and taking part in the activity

in a child-centered way.

Talking about children’s work
For many toddlers, the material is an experience – an opportunity to feel and move and try new things. While older toddlers with more words might begin to describe what they are doing or even what they are drawing, wait for them to identify their work rather than assuming it might be representational. Questions like “What is that?” sometimes make children feel as though their artwork has to be something.  Take a moment to watch the way your child is using the material. Is she interested in the feeling of it? The movement of it? The tools she has? Ask some questions or offer some observations about what you notice.
“How do you use this tool? What is this for?”

“What does it feel like on your fingers?”

“I’m so curious about that! Can you tell/show me more?”

Joining in the activity
Art materials can be so enticing, you just want to play  with them, too! The trick is, how can you join in alongside your child without the focus shifting to what you are doing rather than what they are doing?  So much of a toddler’s work is about their ever increasing independence, so give them room to test and try with minimal direction.

Take a moment to look at the children’s work. How is your child using the material? Is she feeling it with her hands or using a tool? Try interacting with it in the same way that she is.

If a child asks you to paint something for them, encourage them to try, or, if they aren’t yet doing representational work, talk with them about the lines, shapes, or textures of what they are thinking of.
If they hand you a brush or tool, make sure they have one, too. Try painting together on the same surface using the same strokes.

Similar posts are available for parents of infants and preschoolers.


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  2. KerriJune 14, 2015 at 4:12 AM

    It may be entertaining for the child to watch an adult creating art however, in order for a child to LEARN about the materials THE CHILD must have a chance to interact with the materials and experience them in their own way. Just as a child learns to walk by trying to walk, the child will not learn about the world of creation soley through watching others create but rather by creating themselves. As we adults observe, we might be amazed by the child's wonder and creativity with the materials they are given or that they find. The experience can by quite unexpected and beautiful when allowed to grow from the child's own body, mind and soul.