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Program Design, Development, and Quality

Valuing Children’s Artwork


“Mommy, my art is in the trash!” said 4-year-old Noah with shock and dismay.

This is how Board Supervisor, Janice Rutherford, opened her keynote speech to a large group of educators. She held up her son’s paper plate painting and told us how distressed he was when he found it in the trashcan at home. How could this have happened? Surely it must be a mistake because who would throw away original artwork?

I was completely amused by her poignant message as this Education Board Member went on to show us that she “walked the walk” and “talked the talk” of early childhood education. She knows from first-hand experience and her own sensitivity that the values we instill in our children are important and our actions need to match those values. (By the way, she confessed to me later that she kept so much of Noah’s artwork, she had run out of storage room, but that she learned a lot from this lesson and would be more discreet in the future.)

There’s so much learning that takes place as children create art.

Art develops our imaginations and creativity. Art helps us discover different points of view, and gives us permission to think “outside the box.” The problem solving, critical thinking and adaptation inherent in art making is more complex than most people realize. Art is a cooperative learning experience that provides pleasure, challenge, and mastery. Through art, children learn complex thinking skills and master many developmental tasks.

Art engages children’s senses in open-ended play and develops cognitive, social, emotional and sensory-motor skills.

Art activities are a great way to promote literacy and language development. Children who draw pictures about stories they have read improve their reading comprehension, story understanding and motivation to read new materials they have not seen before.

How can we teach our children that we DO value their artwork, both at home at school? Visit the BOOST Resource Center and look for “Discount School Supply – What is Child Art?” to find a couple of handouts to start the school year out. They make great take-home flyers for parents, or feel free to post them on your school web site.

For breakfast I had what I always have and love: berries, almonds, cottage cheese, and coffee.

Author Profile: Anna Reyner

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