Focus on the art experience, not the final product.
Art has traditionally been an important part of early childhood programs. At our school, art is often used to represent what we are learning. We focus on the process of art, rather than product-based art. Here, art making is about self-expression. The ‘process’ in process art refers to the process of the formation of art: the gathering, sorting, collating, associating, and patterning. Process art is concerned with the actual doing and often entails an inherent motivation, rationale, and intentionality. Most young children are not especially interested in the final product – they’re more into “doing” art.
This means that children should be encouraged to explore and experiment with a variety of art mediums without being made to feel that they should complete a specific project that looks a certain way.
We know that children feel a sense of emotional satisfaction when they are involved in making art, whether they are modeling with clay, drawing with crayons, or making a collage from recycled scraps. Making art also builds children’s self-esteem by giving opportunities to express what they are thinking and feeling. When friends work on art activities together, the feedback they give to each other builds self-esteem by helping them learn to accept criticism and praise from others. Small group art activities also help children practice important social skills like taking turns, sharing, and negotiating for materials. For very young children, art also is a sensory exploration activity. They enjoy the feeling of a crayon moving across paper, squishing finger paint between their fingers, and seeing a blob of colored paint grow larger.
Art activities also help children develop their fine and gross muscle control. The large arm movements required for painting or drawing at an easel builds coordination and strength; the smaller movements of fingers, hands, and wrists required to cut with scissors, model clay, or draw or paint on smaller surfaces help develop fine motor dexterity and control, ultimately helping children gain confidence in writing. Eye-hand coordination is also developed through art exploration.