By Charlotte Shackleford
Director of Mouzon Weekday Preschool
Has your preschooler ever brought home artwork that looks partially finished? Or something that just looks a little off? Well, I hope they have. The first year I taught preschool I found myself obsessing over the snowman with one eye, or the farm animals that were pasted on upside down. I wanted to encourage the children to place things in the correct spot, and fully color in their pictures. Well, if you have a preschooler, you know I was rarely successful. It was my dear friend and co-teacher at the time that told me, “When you are teaching preschoolers, it’s all about the process, not the product.” Man, was she right.
Preschoolers march to their own drummer, typically have a stubborn independent streak, and are constantly exploring the world around them. Creating a scarecrow has very little to do with the actual scarecrow and everything to do with learning how to use a glue stick, follow 2-step directions, and strengthen their fine motor skills. Young children are fascinated with cause and effect, especially when they are the ones that control what happens. When children are allowed to explore this way, teachers are empowering them to take charge of their learning, ultimately building their independence and confidence in their own abilities.
Sometimes allowing children to focus on the process of creating something at home can feel a bit daunting. You may feel tempted to help them with the glue, or tense up as they paint because you’re terrified it won’t come out of the rug if it spills. As moms, we all have to remember that spills are expected and building a confidence in our children far outweighs the value of our favorite rug. Just the same, if you’re like me, artwork is more enjoyable for everyone at home if painting is an outdoor activity.
So when your preschooler sends artwork home, be sure to keep the scarecrow with googly eyes on his toes, or the picture painted completely in purple. Keep in mind that in preschool, perfection is achieved when children complete something independently, even if the bottom third of the picture is missing because they were practicing their cutting skills. You will always be able to look at these creations and know that your child learned so many skills along the way.