How to do Art in the Early Years, without Getting Messy!

By Holly Edlin, Head Teacher at Gymboree Play & Music St Albans.

As a child, as you were once too, I loved playing in mud, jumping in streams, drawing on walls and potato printing. Now that I am older I have fallen in love with the awe experienced by children as they create using new materials and medium they may have never experienced before. Art classes at Gymboree Play & Music St Albans are different because you get to experience that fun by their side, and not only are they learning but we as adults learn to understand how children use art to process, explore and experiment.

Art is a great way to work on language development, and not just through the pre-writing skills of holding a crayon and scribbling. Asking open ended questions can lead to further perceptive and expressive thought whilst your child is thinking about their answers. Next time your child picks up a yellow pencil, change your question from ‘Are you going to draw a banana?’ to ‘What are you going to draw?’

Gymboree Play & Music Art classes are primarily based on ‘The Habits of Mind’ Theory first described by Arthur Costa and Bena Kallick. Our Art philosophy is about focusing on the process of making visual art, through perception, reflection, expression and conception: where a child will be encouraged to be free and visit each process as and when they need. Our Art classes are all about each child having their own vision and creativity to explore, and every outcome being celebrated!

A great way to show how you value their vision is by displaying it: no matter what it looks like! Praise is a hugely beneficial way to build confidence, not only in their art work but in real life too. Throughout a Gymboree Play & Music Art class I’m always congratulating each child and pointing out each other’s efforts too. As each child’s perception and conception will vary, each of their efforts must be valued and in showing how we as adults are embracing differences they are also learning an even bigger lesson.

I understand the worry of doing art at home – no matter how much newspaper you put down, somehow sticky hand prints are going to end up on the cream upholstery. A Gymboree Play & Music Art class is a safe place for your child to get covered in shaving foam and green poster paint: we’ve got wipe-able floors and chairs, a bucket of water for emergencies and plenty of wet wipes to go around!

Here are my top tips for attending for first Gymboree Play & Music Art class:

  • Don’t wear your new white jeans!
  • Dress your child in something old
  • Encourage and praise
  • Ask open ended questions about their work
  • Point out great things in other children’s art work to your child
  • Display your child’s art
  • Take a step back and see what they can do