Friday, December 16, 2011

Producing Productive Progeny: Part 2, Toddlers and Preschoolers

Producing Productive Progeny:
Or how to make your child a brilliant and talented artist in an arts vacuum.

By Kathryn Margaret Evans Ombam

In a three-part series, I'll be sharing creative, low-cost, or free approaches to teaching your children about the arts and encouraging confidence in their own artistic pursuits. Part one focused on infants (up to 15 months), part two is for toddlers and preschoolers and part three focuses on school-age children.

PART TWO: Toddlers and Preschoolers
Busy bodies, expanding brains

You’ve already seen how you can expose the smallest minds to art, but what about when they are starting to show an interest in new activities? Around 18 months, your child may start to show interest in pens and pencils when you are writing, they may be interested in the bigger kids crayons at your nephew’s birthday party, and they may start to sit up and take notice of the things in their world.

Time to seize the opportunity and get them thinking creatively!

Toddlers and Preschoolers: Most parents have a moment of hesitation before taking their spirited toddlers out into public places. That whisper of hesitation turns more like a deafening cacophony of voices screaming “Don’t Do It!” when they think of taking their child to a museum.

Precarious emotions, sticky fingers, and loud voices do not mesh well with the peaceful, sanctuary-like atmosphere of the modern museum. Sure, almost every city has a children’s museum, but there are other options too.

Viewing Art: Visit sculpture gardens, arboretums, and outdoor murals. Point out interesting architecture. Begin to read them the object labels and point out shapes, themes, and materials to them. You’ll be shocked at how much they can retain.

Art History: There are several good children’s books that talk about art, art museums and creating art. Start to read them to your children. Some of them are even board books.

We have one called Magritte’s Imagination. There is a great Babar book called Babar’s Museum of Art that explains what museums are and why they are important. And there is a great book called Ish that talks about being a confident artist, even as a child. In your trips to the art book section of the library, try looking at some Photography books. They may find it fun to identify details in a photograph.

Doing Art: Welcome to the world of discovery! Toddlers and preschoolers will love every kind of medium you put in front of them. I personally think that properly supervised children can try any kind of non-toxic medium. My toddler loves pencils, pens, crayons, and sidewalk chalk. Each of these is available for under $1.

Now is not the time to invest in expensive paints. Get the cheapest paints and watercolors, make sure they are non-toxic and invest your extra money in a good smock.

Note for those that are concerned with keeping things in your home looking nice, maybe make your first painting attempts in an easy to clean place like the bathroom or kitchen. The most important developmental aspect of these art lessons is experimentation, but that takes a lot of parental patience and a fair dose of clean up!

Kathryn Ombam is a writer, editor, and career counselor whose specialty is in business and academic writing. She has most extensively worked with artists and designers.

Her bibliophile status and her editing work were her primary writing outlet until inspiration hit in the form of a writing contest in 2006. Her current efforts can be attributed to a fiction writing group, her blogs, and her ongoing desire to comment on her life.

Ms. Ombam’s first published work of fiction will be published in an upcoming short story anthology. She also writes a children’s book review blog:

Want to add to the conversation? Click here to learn how to become a contributor to the Productive Parenting blog.

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