I am delighted to welcome Vinaya Ambadekar in this guest post.
To make the transition from home to school smoother, I enrolled my daughter in the pre-school’s summer camp last year. To my delight I was allowed and encouraged to participate with her for the first few days!
As I observed, after the initial crying spell, most children loved the rhymes, dance and free play. Then came the craft activity, which was focused on a planned artifact. It seemed complex for the age-group 2-3. I was keen to see how this goes, especially with my little one!
For the first few minutes she curiously observed, tables being covered by newspaper, paper sheets being distributed to each child… then she saw a plate with color, some sticky material (glue) in another plate, paper airplane cutouts. her observant face brightened and all she wanted to do was to pounce on that material and explore, but had not gathered enough courage to do so in this new place 😊 She was delighted when the teacher gave her the flat big brush to color the sky!
Her faced crimpled a little, as she was being directed by holding her hand. She tried to take control, but soon lost interest in the activity and wandered around. In the couple of days observation, I realized, although structured activities have their benefits, at this point, her interest was more in exploring the stuff than creating something planned.
So, I decided to let her free and explore, of course I had to settle my mind first with the mess that was coming with it 😊
While I have been experimenting with these activities, I also discovered a concept called ‘Process Art’.
In simple words, it means ‘Focus more on the process of making the art than the end-product.’
There is no sample or instructions to follow! Just immerse yourself in the experience and journey of creating to sooth your senses! The outcome may be, something you like and want to keep or it may not be, but that’s not your focus. I read about the benefits of this method with children! It was encouraging to find that it syncs with the Montessori approach too, of letting the child experience herself, than intervening too much.
When I tried it myself with my daughter, I loved the idea and experience, especially after a lifetime of training and practice of working towards a set goal.
How I went about it:
- I mostly use large imperial size paper sheets and sit on the floor. Where she easily moves around with less restriction.
- Prefer water colors which can be washed off with plain water.
- Provide varied material like:
- Different sized brushes
- Color containers for finger painting
- Cotton balls
- Cut vegetables
- Fallen tree leaves
- Bubble wrap
- Different grains, pulses
- Recently tried a little more complex material:
- Spray pens
- Spray bottles (filled with water colors)
What I observed:
- JOY – First and foremost, her sparkling eyes make it evident how much she enjoys this uninhabited exploration.
- CONCENTRATION: Her attention span has increased! (which means she jumps less from one activity to the other).
- EXPLORATION: Her hesitant hands have become more confident in exploring different things. Now she barges into my kitchen and choses a grain or a vegetable she wants to paint with. Well, straws and spoons are not spared 😉
- She has learnt to explore mixing material on her own. She rolls her roti and then paints them!
- One of her games is identifying different shapes from the color doddles she does, like spider, flower.
- Exploration is not limited only to the time of art; her dinner plate is also her canvas (circle with dal-rice).
- MOTOR SKILLS: Her shredded play dough has more defined shapes now.
- Her strokes are more confident and have slowly progressed to forms, current favorite is airplane!
- PERSISTANCE: If she fails doing something she tries another way of handling a tool! The new spray bottles were hard for her to use, so she figured how to open them and poured the color to try the rollers.
- SELF RELIANCE: She equally enjoys cleaning up after the activity 😊
My journey so far has been thoroughly enjoyable and enriching! Would love to hear your experiences in a similar space with your little ones! Do share them!
By Vinaya Ambadekar