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Toddler Art Is About the Process (Part 1)

Afraid of Toddler Art? Time to face your fears!

When you think about your toddler doing art activities do you imagine paint and glue everywhere but on the paper? No wonder! Toddlers are energetic and messy, but it’s time to face your fears!

By doing art projects with your toddler, you will be providing opportunities for him/her to learn and grow, to develop fine motor skills, and to discover a whole new world that builds independent, creative individuals.

And while this type of play may be viewed as frivolous by some, it remains an integral part of the developmental learning process by allowing children to develop skills in such areas as abstract thinking, literacy, math, and social studies, in a timely, natural manner.

What is going on in the mind of a toddler?

Toddlers are emerging as a separate self from Mommy and Daddy and are becoming independent – and more challenging in their outright declarations of “By myself!” or “No, no, no.” This is truly a difficult time for both adult and child!

  • One day, your toddler vehemently resists an activity; the next day, that same activity is welcomed openly and with enthusiasm.
  • Each toddler has a unique personality and a unique level and pace of development and no two toddlers achieve the same skill levels at the same time or in the same exact way.
  • To keep expectations realistic and to make toddler art experiences successful and enjoyable, parents should take into account their child’s unique temperament traits and developmental level.
  • Let your toddler’s temperament help you choose which art activities to enjoy together. If it won’t work today, try it tomorrow! Be flexible, supportive, and nurturing – these traits are key to working with toddlers. So, take a deep breath and jump in!

Art is a process, not a product

Toddlers explore art as a learning experience, an experiment, and an activity of discovery that is simulating and interesting. They are more interested in the process than the finished product.

  • There is no such thing as a cookie cutter-perfect craft for toddlers — it’s simply of no interest to them.
  • During the process, toddlers discover their own independent creativity, as well as mystery, joy, delight, and frustration, all of which are important pieces in the puzzle of learning.
  • Art allows toddlers to explore, discover, and manipulate their worlds.
  • Art can be a way to “get the wiggles out.” Better to smash a ball of clay than another toddler!
  • Exploring the process of art will give the toddler wide experiences and time to learn and develop both naturally and appropriately.
  • The adult’s job is to simply allow it to happen. Provide interesting materials. Sit back and watch closely but unobtrusively.

Encourage your toddler to explore art

Use open-ended comments that give confidence and make it fun!

  • “Did you like doing this? Did you like making this?”
  • “I see you’ve used many colors!”
  • “How does the paint feel?”
  • “Look at the bright yellow!”
  • “I see you’ve made brown.”

I hope this helps you have a better understanding of how you and your toddler can enjoy doing art activities together.

If you are looking for ideas and materials to use, take a look at our “My Sweet Shop” Activity Pack.

Next Tuesday look for Toddler Art Part 2: 8 Tips for (relatively clean) toddler art !

~ Julie and The Sqooll Team