Process vs. Product Art
When you think of art for children, what do you think of? What age group do you think of? What materials and mediums come to mind?
The reality is, often the first answers that come to mind to these questions are typically: coloring sheets with a preprinted picture, crayons and markers, and children over 5. And certainly, offering a child a coloring sheet with markers to color in a sunflower outline has its own merit and place in the art world, but I would encourage you to think outside of coloring sheets and scrutinize the benefit they offer to your child.
Think instead of a 6 month old, sitting in a box of ribbon, seeing colors, patterns, and feeling different textures. This child is indeed having an art experience, a process-based art experience. The parent will not leave the art space with a finished product, but they will leave with a child that had the opportunity to engage in sensory play with art materials. This is called process art, an art experience that focuses only on the process of creation. Product art experiences are mostly experiences that have a set final product, like a coloring sheet or an art project with step by step instruction, the final product looks the same for every child, thereby indicating that a unique and individualized experience was missed.
When we allow children to create in their own way, we tell them their creativity is important, their ideas matter, and they have the freedom to experience and learn uniquely. Children learn through play and open-ended activities, they learn through asking questions and freely exploring the world around them.
How can you do this at home? Offer your children different mediums and materials, allow them to create how they’d like to and commend them on their creation! If you see what they’ve made and think, “what is that?” you’ve done it! Your infant can experience art too! Simply by offering your infant or young toddler art manipulatives to experience, they are being given the opportunity to have a sensorial, process-based art experience.
More questions? Come see Gini, Director of Early Childhood Education at WOW! Children’s Museum!