Keep these 5 ideas in mind when planning art projects at home:
1. Make space
2. Think before you speak
3. Follow their lead
4. Get Supplies
5. Let it go
Make space: Create a space where you will enjoy sitting while your child works next to you. Kids want to be near their parents anyway and setting up to work side by side has the added benefits of conversation, guidance and modeling good work habits. Even if this is the kitchen table or the coffee table!
Materials left unattended will depend on age, developmental stage, personality, preferences, and your own comfort level but if you are there to establish the basic rules (i.e. no cutting hair, paint on the paper, and Sharpies are permanent) they are more likely to be followed when you are out of their orbit.
If you are a part of their work space now- you will continue to be as they grow older and start to bring home schoolwork. Which bring us up to...
Ask them to tell you about their artwork. Before you insult your child's horse, dog, or portrait of you- ask! Kids love having the opportunity to share and be heard!
Comment on something you see "Wow, look at all those blue lines,... I like how you are using your whole arm to draw that circle,... "
Acknowledge the time, muscle, effort, attention to detail, color, etc. because it is important to praise the process and not just the product.
Please, do not put down your own art skills. Save your "I can't draw..." because self-deprecation benefits no one; especially your child. Being self-critical, a perfectionist, or hard on yourself does not lead to creativity. So fake it till you make it, share how you can improve, struggle, fix mistakes but please save your whining. Perfection is boring!
Follow Their Lead: Just like we develop other skills like talking and walking in stages, we develop artistic skills in the same way. Knowing where your child is can help you choose appropriate activities and tools.
The most important thing at any development stage of art is to encourage open-ended exploration of art materials, self-confidence, and enjoyment in art and learning!
Get Supplies: Here are my 13 favorite art supplies... this could use it's own post!
Crayons! Crayola Crayons are still my favorite but for littles that break crayons easily I like Stockmar Beeswax Blocks. Also let your kids peel and break their crayons! Upcycle crayons when you have a stockpile.
Paint! Little bottles of acrylic, liquid watercolor, tempera.
Tape (blue painter's tape, masking tape, scoth tape in a dispenser, color tape)
Tackle box to store everything
Let it go:
Messes will be made. Messes lead to creativity, imagination, connections, memories, and growth.
It is your child's work. If you would like to paint- get your own paper
Let it go- but not all of it! Save a few cherished pieces from each stage. First portrait, little hand prints, family portrait, etc. Get a cabinet frame, a large envelope, or a box. Figure out what you have room for and keep some special works. Children are able to recall a lot about an experience by looking at a work of art. The more senses engaged the stronger the memory.
Unplug and pick up a book, learn to knit, find a new craft or skill and show your kids that you are learning, able to make mistakes and improve.