My first child, Allison, is very smart. At 18 months I could show her any letter of the alphabet and she could tell me the name of the letter and the sound it made. By three she was writing out letters and trying to spell out words. She started reading at 4 1/2 and has been going this way ever since. She was so bright I think I often didn't realize how little she really was. I remember teaching her how to draw people, dinosaurs, trees, and other things. I rarely just gave her art materials and let her explore herself. Unfortunately, at that time, I didn't know the value of letting her explore and learn on her own in artistic and even educational ways. Even with toys, I would sit down and play with her somewhat showing her the proper way to play and what to do with her things. I never just gave her a toy and let her try to figure out what it could be used for. Everything had a purpose and I gave her the formula for how to play and she was great at it. I once read an article that said that they took a new toy and had one teacher show children how to use the toy. Then all the children tried to use the toy in the same way as the teacher explained and they weren't very interested for very long. In another class they told the teacher to just give the toy to the children and see what they do. They found with the second class that the kids tried many different things with this toy and they all came up with unique and different ways to play with it. In the end the second class was much more interested and intrigued by the toy. The moral is to let your children discover for themselves how to use and play instead of showing them what you think is the proper way to play with toys. Now Allison is 7 years old. She is my least willing child to experiment with art materials. She gets frustrated when things don't look like she intended them to. She isn't a lost cause. She does experiment sometimes, but I can see her hesitation often that she may get the wrong answer. I think the way I raised her made her into a bit of a perfectionist. She is still brilliant, but she fears not being the best or smartest. I wish she could relax and not worry about being 100% all the time.
My second child, James, was born artistic in so many ways. From the youngest of age I remember him putting his trains, cars, and other toys into lines and circles. Once at the beach he spent the entire time gathering rocks, lining them up into circle shapes, counting them, and then stacking them into sculptures. Everything he did was in a peculiar way. He drew with both hands. Sometimes at the same time, sometimes at different times during the same coloring session. He has never been good at listening to instructions so for me to tell him to draw like this or that would never have worked for him anyhow. I soon gave up my power over him and let him just be him. I still didn't know at that time much about letting children learn and discover on their own, but lucky for James that was the only way to let him be. He soon developed into a Picasso-esque type artist. Drawing people with wheels and two heads and all sort of interesting things. I have loved his art and I call him our artist of the family. He still doesn't draw as well as many 5 year olds in terms of drawing what he sees, but to me the emotions and lines he puts into his drawings are far more artistic than the 5 year old that draw real things.
My youngest, Grace, is now a two year old. Two year olds are unique artists. One day they love an activity and one day they hate it. They can also do the same activity every day and not grow board of it. Two year old love doing the same activity with a slightly different twist to it. They will experiment and do things in their own way. They learn best when they are allowed to explore and discover on their own. I have learned that each time you give them something new to explore to start small and add more later. For example; the first time you give them a crayon, give them one piece of white paper and one black crayon. Take all the wrapping off the crayon so they can explore all the ways to use that crayon. Then sit back and let them go. The first time I did this with Grace she drew two lines on the paper and then was off doing something else. The next day I gave her the same thing and she drew a bit more. She pressed harder on the paper. Then she was done again. I felt like it wasn't much or as great as it should be. But I kept at it. Soon she was scribbling all over the paper. As time went on I added more colors. She explored and explored everyday. Then we moved on to markers, paints, chalk and so forth. The key is not to show or explain to them what to do. We as parents need to let them develop and learn on their own. This will teach them independence, and joy in learning and exploring.
Grace is still very young in her art work. She seems to be developing a bit slower than some, but it is still important to just let her do it in her own time. I have seen other two year olds who are drawing circles. Grace drew her first circle about a month ago and I was thrilled. I haven't seen it one time since. It would be easy for me to show her a circle and how to draw a sun or a stick figure, but it is really exciting to wonder when she will discover these things on her own. I am glad to not take that adventure away from her as I did unknowingly with Allison. It will be interesting to see how she develops as an artist. They are all so different and we parent them all so different too. I wonder what plays the bigger role?
|Here she is drawing on a turkey I made for her when she was 2 years old. I remember telling her where to put each color so that in the end the turkey looked perfect.|
|It turned out to be a really cute turkey by a two year old and I remember my parents thinking it was so smart to color this way, but now I can't help but look at this and see all my directions and how well Ally did those directions.|
|This is Ally today. She only draws dogs, suns, flowers, and houses. I rarely see her try much more than that. She is very timid to think outside the box.|
|My two very different artists raised differently but by the same mother.|
|She still basically does lines and scribbles, but I am not going to push this baby to other things.|