Response from Scholarship Recipient Resa Mai

I very much enjoyed the session on Process Art, it gave me new insight on adult expectations vs children’s expectations.  And we need to remember that the toddler and preschool programs are for those exact patrons, the toddlers and preschoolers.  Anyone who has ever run a children’s program knows that one parent who will have issue with Process Art – Art for Arts sake.  The presenters acknowledged the “handsy” parents and provided a great tool to use when dealing with them.  It will be so empowering to offer those and all parents the opportunity to make their own creation, rather than impose their will on their child’s artwork. I love that we have the ability to redirect the parent without telling them No or embarrassing them.  That is a powerful tool.

Process Art – or Art for Art’s sake represents a paradigm shift in storytime crafts.  By putting out materials (paint, paper, glue, tissue paper…) and not giving an example, sample or directions, we encourage creativity and autonomy in the kids.  If the story is about frogs, perhaps the colors provided will be green and yellow and blue. The children then take what they heard and what they felt during storytime, then they create their own theme on paper.  This type of open ended creativity gives a child’s mind wings and freedom.  The presenters made the observation that a child given examples made by an adult is creating an impossible task.  Toddlers do not have the fine motor skills that an adult has, we should never expect them to recreate something an adult created.  Often with crafts that is exactly what we are doing. Rather than being liberated in the artistic opportunity, they are being given  unrealistic expectation and the child is caged with thoughts of “Don’t Mess Up”.  Of course they are going to mess up, let them.

The presenters also made the suggestion that we do not evaluate any of the crafts, not even to say something is “good” or “nice”.  By avoiding assigning judgement continues to allow kids to work through their own process.  And we have all embarrassed ourselves by commenting on a child’s art, only to find that what the child created was not what we saw.  Think “Billy I love that cloud you drew” only to have little Billy’s reply be “It’s not a cloud, it’s my bird Fluffy, cuz he ate too many marshmallows and now he is flying up to heaven”.  Yeah we have all had those conversations and they never end well.  In the Process Art session we are reminded to ask open ended questions, allowing the artist to tell us what they created.  An example of an open ended question would be to ask…”Would you like to tell me what you created?”  or “Can you tell me what you are working on there?”
Mostly what I took away from the Process Art session is that we need to empower our kids, giving them the materials and freedom to make their own expectations.  And modeling positive behaviors for parents.
Resa Mai, Clearview Library District



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