Art bags are coming home today. For those reading this that aren't actually enrolled here, every so often, when we have a pretty good accumulation of art, we bag it all up and send it home. The kids all sit down with a plastic bag, and I pass it out to them. By sending it home once a month or so, rather than daily, we have plenty to display and parents don't have to deal with wet artwork, or that accumulation of papers that seem to always get left in the backseat of the car. The kids know this is the plan, so we avoid a lot off whining at pickup time about them wanting to take something home that I wanted to display. I tie these bags shut to help avoid paper all over the car before they can get home...but I'm guessing this has still happened plenty of times!
Our art box was overflowing, and the walls were covered. I wish I would have thought to take photos earlier. While it has been awhile, some of the kids have been very busy, like the child who has two bags to take home. Some don't have much, but don't think that those kids haven't been creative! There have been some pretty impressive things going on in the block and music areas, and at the light table. I really need to take more photos of those things.
Here's a few things that really kind of drive me nuts, though, in no particular order:
1. If your child only has two items in their art bag, don't ask them why they aren't doing art. The answer, which they probably won't tell you, is that they just don't want to. That's ok! I have a child today who took home two bags. A year ago, he barely had anything in his bag. I have one child right now who has hardly left the block corner in a month. That bag isn't full. When they are ready, they will move on to something else. No matter what area of the room they are playing in, they are learning. One of my favorite Ooey Gooey Lady quotes: "Art is not a receipt for child care."
2. Their art is not about you. It's theirs. It's about their creativity. It's about them working through whatever developmental stage they are in. I understand that moms like the cutesy crafts. I have had moms make requests for it. Actually, those were more like complaints that we don't do enough of those. But your child learns nothing from those. Ok, maybe they will learn something about following directions. But there are a kazillion better ways that we can do that without killing their creativity and stressing everyone out. Those cut-and-paste crafts demand too much perfection that they just aren't ready for.
3. When a child first figures out how to work a pair of scissors, they will spend a lot of time making itty bitty tiny snips off a piece of paper. This can go on for days. There are some kids who are perfectly content to just throw these in the trash. Some kids, however, are very proud of this new skill, and will want to bring them home. In which case, I will give them a baggie to do just that. Eventually, they will figure out that they can glue all these little snippets to another piece of piece...using a ridiculous amount of glue. Because a lot of these will probably never fully dry until sometime after this child graduates from high school, these may also be put in plastic for the child to bring home. I have had parents ask to me to just throw these away rather than send them home. Please, please, please do not ever ask me to do this, especially in front of your child, unless you really want to see my mama bear personality come out. And as entertaining as that may sound, you don't want to see that. Because, trust me...I can make you feel really, really bad. Those clippings and glue are so precious to your child that they wanted to bring them home to share them with you.
4. I have also had parents say I only need to send the cute crafty stuff home, not the scribbly free art stuff. I know of providers who keep only a few samples and throw the rest away. I send everything home. It is their creation. It is not my decision as to whether it is worthy enough to send it home. I will never do that to a child. Now, I do understand that you can't keep every single scrap that comes home. I most certainly don't expect you to keep any of it! Unless, of course, you would like to star in an episode of Hoarders. But I do hope that you take a few minutes and look through the bag with your child. Maybe even decide with your child what will be kept and what can be thrown. Of course, we all know that doesn't work with some kids. It's really ok to get rid of what you don't want without them knowing. It's just probably best to wait a few days until they have forgotten about it, and then be sure to so discreetly!
5. Should you lavish praise onto each and every item in that bag? Absolutely not! Because for a lot of it, you are really going to be faking it. And we don't want them becoming overly dependent on that praise. Discuss what they did, rather than how they did. Talk about the colors they used, or the numbers or letters they tried writing, or the shapes they drew. Rather than saying what is it, ask them to tell you about it. If it was a group activity ( you will know this because those have the date, their name, and possibly what process we were doing, written on the back), ask them about the process. If they ask you if you like it, turn it back to them...ask them what they like about it. And there is nothing wrong with displaying some of your favorite pieces (isn't that what fridges are for??), but it's even better when also display some of their free art pieces.
Ok, this is getting really long. I have a couple more things to say on this, but those are important enough to get their own posts. And Parents...don't start pointing fingers at each other, this is aimed at no one in particular right now. Most of this is stuff that has happened in the past, and stuff I would love to avoid in the future.
Have fun going through those art bags...I saw some cool things going into them!