Talking to your child about their work

Many parents have experienced that fateful moment of truth when faced with a piece of paper covered with scribbles. Your child looks up with large eyes, wondering what you think of their drawing and most of us have made assumptions about what we see. Inevitably, the smile on your child’s face fades into disbelief as they wonder how you could possibly think their drawing of themselves playing outside was a picture of the sun. 

This is a common moment that I’ve experienced as an art teacher and one most adults can relate to. It can be frustrating as a parent to not understand what your child has created or where their motivation is coming from. Keep in mind that most children develop artistically in a similar manner. As they grow and develop their skills, they continue to move from one artistic level to the next. This is something Private Picassos keeps in mind when designing the curricula for all of our programs.

When working with your child at home, try to avoid guessing or assuming what something is. Its best to simply ask questions about your child’s artwork and have them tell you the story behind their creation. By making observations about their artwork, you leave it up to your child to fill in the blanks. A great open-ended question is “I see you used a lot of _______ here, can you tell me about that?” Most children under the age of four are still in the naming stage and usually create something and then identity it afterwards. They are more concerned with the tactile experience of creating art and exploring the materials rather than the finished product. Once you hear their side of the story, you’ll see the masterpiece behind the piece of paper covered in scribbles.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to hear endless stories about your child’s work and also become attuned to their development.

Valeen Bhat is the founder and director of Private Picassos. Valeen received her BFA/MS in Art and Design Education, with a minor in Art History and a concentration in printmaking from Pratt Institute. After working at various educational facilities, including museums, early childhood education centers and community centers, she founded Private Picassos. Valeen crafts the core values and philosophy of PP, drawing inspiration from her education, experience, and background. Valeen is deeply knowledgeable and passionate about children’s art education and enjoys working with her students and growing Private Picassos.

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