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?”
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.