My goat had been gotten earlier in the week, when my boss sent me links to a gift project.
Some lovely Pinterest thing, that would require a lot of prep and supervision, and would spark very limited interest in my two and three year olds.
Oh they would be thrilled to paint, and glue, and cut, and glitter,
but to keep the project gift level beautiful, I would have to censor and monitor their work.
In the end the project would become my work, not theirs.
Anyone that knows me, knows that I am craft queen.
I've never met a project I didn't love.
Glitter flows in my veins, but as an early childhood educator, I know that it is the process, not the product that is meaningful to young children, if you are doing it right.
There is a delicate dance of indifference and detachment the adult must do, to empower children to create, without preforming.
That means you hand them the materials and step back.
You do not stand behind and ask
What IS it?
G O O D J O B !
You do not take their adorable little hands, press them in paint, and craft reindeer and seasonal fowl.
You resist the urge to stop them from mixing all the paint together into a giant shit colored blob, and your bite your tongue when the drawing veers suddenly from charming to rubbish.
I attended a very good training in winter (which is unusual) and the best take away was
The younger the child, the bigger the paper!
The child that has not been molded by curated art projects, will paint for the joy of it.
She will paint with focus, and abandon.
She will be carefree, and careful and she will paint for herself.
At two, a child will not know what it is, because it is the act of doing which holds meaning, rather than the act of producing.
At three a typical child will tell a story about their painting, but the image on the page will not be representational, in the way we adults like. The image will twist and turn and change with layers and scribbles and lines overlapping.
At four a child will draw and paint more concrete images, and will often make things for a recipient.
Two year olds are gleefully narcissistic, three year olds paint for themselves, unself-consciously, with delight.
When adults impose their values on the art of young children, the outcomes shift.
They often stop painting and drawing all together, or they become the children that ask me 100 times, "do you like it Miss Heidi?"
Do YOU like it ?
I ask them.
My boss is a nice lady, with a great understanding of all of these things, but parents really like all those paper-plate projects, the googly eyes, the hand-print turkey, the cotton-ball Santa.
On Wednesday we made autumnal wreaths from paper-plates, because I sometimes try to be a team player, even when it's against my nature.