10 Questions To Ask Your Child About Their Art

How do you talk to your kids about the art they create? How do you display it? I created a simple gallery wall in our home (click here to see an image of the gallery wall at the bottom of the post) that's filled with my kids' art work which changes on the daily and it's one of my favourite things in our home.

I recently wrote an article for the Halifax Citizen (full article below) about the value of little kid art with the help of the good folks at the Halifax Early Childhood School (HECS). They gave me some great - and easy to follow - tips about how parents can better understand and appreciate their little ones' art rather than simply saying, "That's great!" or "So pretty!" and tacking it up on the fridge with the rest of the creations.

They also gave me a list of questions to ask your kids when they present you with their art that will stimulate discussion and, perhaps, help you figure out the true meaning behind their art. Here are some of the questions they suggested to start with.

10 questions to start a conversation about art with your child (courtesy of HECS*)

  1. Tell me about your picture.
  2. Why did you use that colour; why did you choose that art tool?
  3. Is your picture finished?
  4. Would you like me to write anything on the back about your drawing? What could you title your artwork?
  5. What gave you the idea for your art?
  6. What are your feelings about your art? (happy, sad, content, unsatisfied) And how were you feeling when you created your art?
  7. What is your favorite thing about your art?
  8. What would you do differently next time you create art? (Is there anything you wish you could change or add to your art?
  9. What do you like about your piece of art?
  10. How did you make your artwork?

This article was originally published in the Chronicle Herald's weekly community papers and has been republished here with their permission.

“Art is magical for preschoolers and for the educators that have the opportunity to observe this development in children,” says Sara Lordly, coordinating director and teacher at the Halifax Early Childhood School (HECS).

This may be true, however every day parents are faced with that awkward moment when their young child hands over their latest artistic creation, which, to the untrained adult eye, often looks like a mess of squiggles, but, to the child, may be a detailed self-portrait.

Lordly says the key to decoding your children’s artwork lies in the child themselves. Asking open-ended questions and using phrases such as “Tell me about your picture,” or “How does this painting make you feel?” are great conversation starters about art.

“To an adult the art isn’t always recognizable but it tells a story to the child. Just ask them to tell you about their work,” she suggests. “The stories are always elaborate, interesting and entertaining.”

Farrah Curran, a preschool teacher at HECS, says those scribbles a child makes when they first pick up a crayon are actually part of the three stages of artistic development all young children go through.

She explains that the first stage is called the Scribble Stage where children make random marks on a page with a drawing tool; the next is the Pre-Schematic Stage where children often use circles and lines to represent objects in an image; and then the Schematic Stage where children use their ideas from what they have seen in the world to create their art.

Curran encourages parents to expose children to different types of art through visiting art galleries and looking at books of art to extend their development. She also says to remember that for young children it’s more important to focus on the process, rather than the product, and to avoid criticizing or directing their work.

Displaying children’s art in a family home is another great way to show appreciation.

“When you show children that their work is just as important as store bought artwork it gives them confidence in their abilities,” Curran says. “It also gives them a sense of importance and it has been shown that children who have a healthy self-esteem become better equipped to deal with challenges presented to them.”

HECS recently held a private event for families of their children called Beer and Budding Artists at a local brewery. The children at the school painted and titled a canvas that was displayed in an art gallery style for event goers to enjoy.

Lordly says parents can do a version of this at home as well.

“Make sure to display the art at his or her eye level for everyone to admire,” Lordly says. “The art makes a great conversational piece and your child will feel so proud.”

Lordly says it’s important to acknowledge children’s artwork and, by doing so, it will to teach them to recognize the value of other people’s creations.

"The children learn to value and appreciate the art of their friends,” says Lordly. “It is amazing to observe the children interact with the materials and share their thoughts with those around them.”