How to Encourage Self-Expression Through Art


How to Encourage Self-Expression Through Art

how to encourage self-expression through art

Kids can sometimes struggle to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Young children often lack the life experience or vocabulary to describe their inner worlds and emotions so that adults can understand.

Creating art can help kids process their thoughts and feelings in new ways. Most children enjoy being creative and exploring new ideas through art. It’s often the grown-ups that need a little help to get started!

This guide will give parents and caregivers some great ideas to encourage self-expression through art. You will learn about different art forms kids can do to help them express their feelings and thoughts.

Contact the dedicated educators at New Horizons now to learn about our enriching early education programs or schedule a tour of our learning center.

How Does Art Help Kids Express Themselves?

A child’s brain develops more between birth and five years than at any other time. Young children make new connections as they play, grow, and explore the world. These connections create a foundation they will build on for the rest of their lives.

Very young children must have ways to express their thoughts and feelings. Having the freedom to explore their emotions and ideas can help them feel more confident in themselves.

Adults can foster this freedom and creativity in many ways. Art is one of the most important (and fun!) ways to let your children express themselves throughout childhood.

Many adults think that art must be about making something specific. However, free artistic expression is an incredibly valuable way to help children process their ideas and feelings.

Art doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated to be effective at helping children express themselves. Simple materials, time, and freedom are all children need.

How to Encourage Self-Expression Through Art

It doesn’t take a lot of time, knowledge, or planning to create opportunities for art. You can encourage self-expression through art in many ways throughout the day. Here are some guidelines to follow.

Understand the difference between art and crafts

Some people use the terms “art” and “crafts” to mean the same thing. However, there are some significant differences to keep in mind.

The term “crafts” usually refers to projects with a determined outcome. For example, constructing a birdhouse from a milk carton would be a craft. While some creativity may be involved, there is a predetermined idea of what the child will make.

Art involves freedom of expression. There is no pre-set idea of what the child will make. Instead, caregivers provide materials and allow the child to create freely. Children rely on their imagination instead of an adult’s instructions or expectations to guide the process.

Don’t worry about following directions.

In many cases, too many instructions can impair imagination. Children may feel less engaged. They may only follow the adult’s advice without thinking or caring about their actions.

Art doesn’t require instructions or rules. As a parent or educator, you can simply provide materials and allow children to decide what to do with them.

When children get to create freely, they often spend more time in creative processes. They develop self-confidence and problem-solving skills.

Provide open-ended materials

Traditional ways of creating art, such as drawing, painting, making music, dancing, etc., can be wonderful ways for children to express themselves. The key is less adult involvement and more freedom.

Simply provide materials like paint, paper, scissors, glue, and ribbon. Allow children to use them however they want. Will there be a mess? Of course! But improved mental health and improved self-esteem are worth it.

Don’t assume you know

When given the freedom to create in the way they like, children may produce things that feel very meaningful to them. It’s important to avoid guessing what they are making. For instance, avoid saying, “I like your dragon!” or “I see you painted your house!” You may guess wrong–and this can be hurtful to the child.

Don’t assume that you know what a child is making. Instead, ask the child to tell you about their picture. Listen to their explanation. You may just be amazed at what they tell you!

Art Inspiration to Encourage Self-Expression for Kids

When it comes to creating art, there are so many forms of self-expression. Here are a few ideas to inspire you:

  • Put out supplies to make paper bag puppets. Let your child create any characters they want and use them to tell stories.
  • Set up a loose parts lab. Set out a range of materials, such as pine cones, empty bottles, glue, paper scraps, polished stones, feathers, etc. Let your child create in any way they want.
  • Make nature art. Have your child collect natural elements from around the neighborhood and use them to create a collage, jewelry, or anything else they come up with.
  • Simple paintings are always a hit. Set up an “artist’s studio” with paper or canvases. Provide paint and brushes. Turn on music, if you’d like. Come back later to admire their masterpieces.

Encouraging a child to express themselves through art doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. All it takes is a little time, creativity, and patience!

Reach out to the team at New Horizons Learning Center to learn more about self-expression during early childhood. Contact our staff now to learn about our programs or to schedule a tour. We look forward to meeting you and your child soon!

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