If you are the art area parent, it is very important for you to be on time. An important part of our school day is greeting each child at the door. If the art area parent is late, often the teacher must be in that area and cannot be at the door to greet the children. Also, many children run in and immediately want to do art.
Children enjoy the process-- the doing-- experimenting with the art activity. The end product is not the important part of the activity. The children are encouraged to do their own art. Our concern is for joy, development, cognitive growth, and discovery, not the finished product. Even if you know a little red here and a little blue there would look great, remember that the art belongs to the child.
There is a suggested activity each class, but children aren't limited to just that. They may get more paints when they are not out, they may want to elaborate on an activity, or have their own ideas. This is great! All of the equipment on the open shelve are theirs to use as they please.
Although the art area may be considered messy by adults, please refrain from using the expression, "messy", as it may discourage a child from participating. It is a wonderful area to observe a child's growth and joy.
Do not make a model for a child. There must be no adult standards on children's art. Think how many of you would be comfortable painting or drawing if Pablo Picasso was drawing or painting right beside you.
If a child asks, "Do you like my painting?", say "Do you like it?". It is not important how we, as adults, feel about the child's art, but how the child feels about their art. If you must say something, be specific: "You used every color," or you can pick up the painting, stand back a bit and say, "What do you think?" while holding it up for them to look over. Encourage the child observing the paint area by saying "You may paint next," but don't pressure the observer. At first they may paint only a stroke or two, and often with only one color.
Please dress appropriately in old clothes and comfortable shoes. Children will touch you with paint on their hands and they may even hug you and cover you with paint. The hug is most important, so dress appropriately.
Do not hesitate to ask another parent or teacher for help in the art area. Assigned areas are flexible and when you have ten children in the art area, obviously, four other parents have little to do in their areas.
Clean up. Wash paint off the easels-- the children like to help. Wash the table and put art supplies away where they belong. Any equipment that needs to be washed should be put in the kitchen sink for the snack person to clean up during circle time. Take finished dry art and put it in the individual child's cubby.
When there is a popular activity, help children waiting find a place at the table. If there is no room, ask the child if they can think of a place to do the project, like maybe the floor. If there is no other place to include the child, suggest something else, while reassuring them that they will be called when there is room. Keep a list of names, if needed, of who will be next. We can repeat the activity the next school day if we need. Don't try to rush children already working.
Ask the artist "Where would you like me to put your name?" Using upper and lower case letters, put correctly spelled names on the art work, while saying each letter our loud as you write. If the child paints or colors over their name, you may write their name again on the back of their work when they are done.
It's important to remember that this is pretend, so don't put limits on their play with your perceptions and ideas of what should happen. Children may take home center equipment out of the area. Materials that leave the area should be returned when the child is done.
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