Tips from an art educator on how working moms can incorporate quality art for kids into your busy schedule—and why art matters.

By Faigie Kobre

I know you work. I’m assuming you also have kids and guilt. Right? Otherwise why would you be visiting this site. (You see I always thought that guilt was only for us Jewish moms but, hanging around this site I see it’s not only ours to claim)I think the difference with Jewish moms is that we tend to feel guilty even if we’re not working.

I don’t work out of the house these days but, I did years ago and I well remember the stresses and yes, the guilt. The guilt of leaving my children with babysitters and housekeepers who didn’t care about my children the same way I did.

What I am going to share with you today is how to use the precious little time you have with your children to give them what I think are some of the most important and best activities to do with kids: Art. Not just any kind of art but, good art, educational art for kids. This will help take away some of the guilt you may have that you don’t get to spend more time with your children. At least when you do spend time with them, it will be with activities that are truly beneficial to them.

Some of you hear the word art and immediately, an image like the one below comes to mind.

Children artist hands painting colorful

While others may be thinking more along the lines of making picture like these. Standard coloring book pages. When many parents think about art they think of coloring and coloring books…how boring.

Children Art

It’s not either/or, you know.

It doesn’t have to be either messy, dirty finger paints or coloring pages and books. There is something else.

I was going through some old posts of mine recently and came across an old post that I wrote on The importance of art in schools. (It’s pretty long and detailed but, if you have the patience, go read it as it will give you a lot of information.) One of the most important things I said in that post is that….

….. it is important to note that creative people as a whole are known to be more independent, autonomous, self sufficient, emotionally sensitive, assertive, self accepting, resourceful, adventurous and risk taking.The discipline that best helps develops these qualities is art education.

Aside from these benefits, art also allows kids and adults to de-stress and it can be a wonderful bonding experience with your child. Kids develop thinking skills, gain initiative, feel competent and develop creativity so important in our world today. In the workplace of today, creativity is much more more valued than follow the numbers sort of skills of yesteryear. Art helps children develop this kind of creativity.

So if art is so important to kids development why don’t parents do more of it with their kids?

I believe that one of the main reasons is, because parents don’t realize how important art is. There are often other reasons as well Below are 3 that I can think of.

  1. Lack of time: This only means that you are allocating other activities to the time you have with your kids and if you knew how important good art was to their development, you would make time.You don’t need endless amount of time to do art with kids.
  2. Lack of interest in mess: This means you really don’t want your kids finger painting all over your kitchen table. OK, I hear you. Painting with kids, even with a brush, is not for everyone.
  3. Lack of ideas: This can’t be a good excuse. All you have to do today is head over to Pinterest and you will be inundated with tons of ideas (or else of course, you can go to my blog www.eduart4kids.com)

Now the trick is to know which is the best kind of art to do with kids.

What IS wrong with coloring books and crafts like that?

Coloring books fall into the same category of what I also call copycat crafts (or cookie cutter crafts).

The flower picture below is a typical copycat style piece of artwork done in most classrooms and in many homes. Almost like the artwork in flowers are red by Harry Chapin right?(go check out that song)

The adult makes the picture, either shows it to the children or not, and then the children have to copy what they see.

Traditional flower picture

Giving children materials so that they can create on their own, according to their own developmental (age level) level is the kind of art that will help them get the benefits we talked about above. (I explain this all in detail in one of my free reports)

Below are images of two different activities that children were given materials to create flowers…how much more creative than any a teacher or parent can think of. Agreed?

flowers using straws and buttons

 

flowers with paper plates

 

flower collage

One of the biggest tricks in this kind of art is to have the patience for the 2 yr olds, 3 yr olds and maybe even 4 yr olds to actually start making art that is recognizable. If they don’t make art that looks like something, then they are not developmentally ready to and pushing them to copy yours is throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Don’t know where to start?

Here’s how I would begin:

You do not have to do really messy activities to give kids good art. I admit that the benefits they get from the messy, sensory activities are wonderful, but, you have to know yourself. If you know that you can’t do those and its just going to stress you out, better a calm mother any old time.

Art can be divided up into a few types. There are messy painting activities (which in this post we are opting out of) and other quite messy activities.

There are the art activities where you take actual art classes to learn real skills. Then there are the simple every day pasting activities, coloring activities or a mixture of both. (I’m not discussing store bought ready made to make crafts projects)That’s what I will talk about today.

I would start by buying some basic supplies like paper, glue, crayons, markers, scissors (maybe we can even sneak in some watercolor paints that don’t get too messy)and put them into a big box.

A box can be something as simple as any kind of big box you have lying around the house or you can get something that is more specific to art like the one below.

This way you will have everything in one place.

You can take it down any time that you want to spend some quality time with your child. Or even so that you can make dinner and they can be busy and happy.

The great thing about a box is that you can take it anywhere and are not confined to one place to do art.

Free art

As you find some more ideas and get the materials, you just stick them into the box ready to go when it’s time to take the box down.

You can add new things to their boxes to make it interesting. Stickers, some craft sticks, some index cards, a stapler, rubber bands etc.

The children then can do what they want with the stuff. If they are used to having this freedom then they will have no problem figuring out what to do with the materials.

Maybe you can make it a habit that each week to put a new material into their box.The idea of always adding new, simple materials (like any office materials) keeps them creative and keeps the art fresh and exciting.

Pasting

In terms of pasting there are so many different collage activities (aside from the ones they do on their own in free art) and you can check out my site for many different types of collages http://educationalartsandcrafts.com/blog/category/collage-for-kids/.

Coloring and drawing

You can always vary the coloring and drawing activities by giving them different kinds of papers and notebooks to color and draw on plus different kinds of writing utensils. Pencils, charcoal, markers, watercolor pencils, there are so many that they can experiment with.

If you want to give them specific coloring ideas then you can try this this coloring idea which changes the shape of the paper or have them finish the picture by giving them a paper with some sort of design on it. If you really want to use coloring books then here are some innovative things to do with with coloring books.

You may also want to check some Creative drawing ideas from Artful Parent, a wonderful art website for kids.

One activity that we did recently, combines pasting and coloring and is an idea I picked up from Debbie Clement. I gave the children a few black circles one day and then one triangle another day and asked them to finish the picture. They had to paste down the object we gave them and then to create a picture around it with either markers or crayons.

circles 5

circles 9

triangle 5

triangle 8

I am continuing to give them various different pieces to jump start their creativity and hopefully this should inspire you as well.

As you can see you can incorporate some very simple art into your child’s every day schedule without breaking the bank. This little bit of art will go a long way.

If you have not been giving your children any art activities, I hope you are now inspired to do so. If you have been giving them some art, I hope I gave you some more ideas and food for thought.

Faigie Kobre is the owner of www.eduart4kids.com. She tries to teach parents and teachers how to give kids art that will make them into better learners and a host of other good things. As she mentioned in the post she has 2 FREE reports you can go get here. One will explain in detail why copycat cats are so detrimental to your children, and the second one will give you 6 detailed activities you do with your children over and over again.