Art for art’s sake?

My three year old loves doing arts and crafts at play school. Given half a chance he will run to the activity table and grab his chubby paintbrush before he’s even removed his outdoor shoes. Once kitted out with smock and paints he really goes to town, covering every square inch of the paper with layer upon layer of paint, sparkles, stickers, glitter, whatever he has to hand. Sometimes he even goes right through the paper such is his zest for his creations.

Now I’m normally pretty happy to go along with my kids’ various whims: the boys’ custom train table and their collection of trains that’s now several dozen strong standing as testimony to that fact.  But tiger parents we are not; we don’t believe in pushing the kids to do activities, be they music, dance, sports or anything else (toilet training too, it appears, but that’s another post altogether …).

So when my little guy’s teacher suggested art lessons to encourage his creativity, we were pleased that he was showing some interest and developing his abilities, but were a bit worried about pushing too hard and risking taking the fun out of it for him.

Then, on one of our many and frequent trips to IKEA, I spotted a children’s easel. Paper and chalkboard give lots of options, and it folded up easily, so we though it might be a way to encourage some creative play at home before we jumped into more formal lessons.

It took us a few days to put it together and decided to start with sidewalk chalk that goes with it. Once they saw it, both boys ran over and immediately started scribbling away. Success! We thought.

Then the little one started to gnaw on the chalk resulting in gooey smears across the board, the furniture, the tv and everything else. And of course his older brother though that seemed like much more fun …

So after we washed down the kids, the walls, the furniture, the tv, the dogs and pried the last bits of chalk from the baby’s teeth, we put the chalk away.

Paper, we thought.

We gave them each one marker at a time, thinking it would be safer and easier that way, both for them and us.

And at first, it was. They dabbed and dotted and scribbled away.

Then the 3 year old said, “mama, will you draw with me?”

“Okay, my sweet,” I said and went to grab a pen to do some line drawing for him to colour.

It often amazes me just how quickly kids pick up on things. Even when we don’t articulate what we are doing and why, children are watching and learning, picking up on our cues, copying our behaviour.

Not thirty second later I returned with a sharpie to draw some doodles and my son turns to me with a smile and says,

“Look mama, I have lipstick just like you!”  

Perhaps he’ll be a makeup artist when he’s older?

Super Busy Mum

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