Nurturing Art Appreciation in
Art has always played
a central role in the education and development of young children. Painting,
drawing and other art activities enhance other areas of development, including
perception, fine motor skills, language and social interaction. These
activities involve the idea of "thinking in art."
But there is another
way that parents and other adults can help young children learn and grow
with art - the idea of thinking about art, or art appreciation.
At first, art appreciation
may seem like an academic and abstract concept, the stuff of college courses,
not early childhood. On the other hand, who better to share art appreciation
with than children, whose senses and perceptions are so open and attuned
to their surroundings?
Creating their own
artwork is one way in which children create meaning in their lives. But
they can also discover meaning in the art created by others and in nature,
and that discovery is the core of art appreciation. While engaging children
in creating art, parents can also connect them to the world of art beyond
their own actions.
Here are some tips
on using your children's creative experiences to develop a knowledge base
- Make sure your child
feels safe and secure expressing observations and opinions about art.
Sharing one's response to a work of art is a public revelation about something
highly personal. Your child must feel comfortable enough to reveal himself
in this way.
- Help your child
collect reproductions and illustrations of fine art. Reproductions of
paintings, prints and drawings of master artists are available at museum
gift shops, bookstores and libraries. Magazines and brochures feature
reprints of work and the book review section of your newspaper may contain
illustrations from recently published art books.
- Connect your child to art in the community. Go to nearby museums and
art galleries, visit artists in their studios, and then provide your child
with the kinds of materials and tools used by the artists she sees.
- Observe art as it occurs in nature. Talk to your child about how changes
in light (bright sunlight, cloudy day, sunset) affect the color of objects.
Encourage him to observe and comment on shapes and textures in plants,
rocks and wildlife. Or look at examples of nature depicted in artwork
and ask her what she thinks an artist found most interesting in a flower
or rock or animal. Children are natural observers. By helping your children
consider what they see from an aesthetic perspective, you can simultaneously
promote their appreciation of the natural environment and the artwork
Appreciation of art
for its own sake is both possible and valuable for young children. Too
often, adults limit art experiences to the making of art. By helping your
children grow from art makers to art appreciators, you can deepen their
understanding of the world and enrich their lives in the process. Few
people continue creating art beyond childhood. But art appreciation is
a skill and a pleasure that can last a lifetime.
from "Thinking About Art: Encouraging Art Appreciation In Early Childhood
Settings" by Ann S. Epstein, an article in the National Association
for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) journal, Young Children, www.naeyc.org.