How to Encourage the Artistic Side of Your Preschooler

It’s no secret that preschoolers have a certain knack at being, shall we say, inventive with their color choices and craft items. They may not have any idea what they’re making in the moment—in fact, they usually don’t; what’s important to them is enjoying the feeling of their finger paint, taking in the sensation of their color choices, and imbibing in the interesting textures that can come about during different art projects.

Whereas older kids can often get self-conscious about their art designs, preschoolers have the ability to let down their guard and do as they please without worrying about what others will think. In fact, art is important for early childhood development for a multitude of reasons.

It’s not always easy for adults to grasp this free-wheeling level of expression, but if you’re able to let go of what your kiddo’s making or why she’s making it and just let her create things, you both might be better off in the long run. Think about it—you’re not only enabling the opportunity to talk about colors, counting, and other essential scholastic skills, but art also encourages the building of fine motor skills, self-confidence, and innovative thinking.

Feeling a little lost as to where to begin encouraging your preschooler to enjoy her artistic side? Here are a few tips:

1. Embrace the Messy Side of Life

Coloring in the lines is no fun for anyone (and if your child is like most preschoolers, that’s not a possibility anyway). Instead of fighting the inevitable mess, embrace it. Throw a drop cloth on the floor to catch pain splatters, cover your kitchen table with newspapers before you set out the supplies, or encourage your little one to get crafty outside if the weather’s nice.

It’s important for kids to have a designated space where they know it’s okay to get messy (and creative!) in whatever way matches their moods at the moment.

2. Refrain from Giving Instructions

This one can be hard for parents, but it’s important to keep the direction-giving to a minimum. Instead of telling your child to paint something specific, such as a rainbow, encourage her to experiment with different colors, mixing them up and creating new hues as she goes.

3. Provide Specific Feedback, Comments, and Questions

Just because you may not know what exactly your child created, it doesn’t mean you can’t find creative ways to make specific comments. Instead of saying, “That’s nice, honey”, shoot for something like, “I see you liked red today. Why did that color stick out to you?”

4. Do Your Own Sketches on Your Own Time

When you’re sitting next to your little one, it can be incredibly tempting to pick up a pencil and start doodling, too. The problem is that could end up frustrating your child, which could then hamper his interest and ability to make art his way. Instead, simply sit next to him and make sure he knows you’re engaged and interested in the items he’s creating.

5. Recognize the Final Piece as a Work of Art All by Itself

No changes are needed because every piece of work your kiddo creates is perfect and looks just like he wanted it to look. Be careful not to suggest additions or changes. Even if it’s just a dot or fingerprint in the middle of the page, that’s your child’s version of a priceless Picasso.

At All Saints’ Episcopal Day School, we’re always looking for fun ways to introduce art and creativity into our classrooms. Our preschool students enjoy and explore art in many ways as part of their curriculum. If you’d like to learn more about our private school, we invite you to reach out and schedule a visit!