Saturday, November 26, 2016

Art vs. Craft: The Difference in What Children Learn

Don’t be misled by the phrase “Arts and Crafts.”  The two words are not synonymous.  They do not represent the same activity.  The materials used for art and a craft may be the same but the learning outcomes are not the same.  Children gain different skills from participating in an art activity and assembling a craft.
                                          
Freely painting at an easel without adult instruction is art.
Art is self-expression.  The formal definition of art is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”  An art activity has no pre-conceived product.  It is entirely about the process of creation and comes from the thoughts of the artist.  In a classroom, students are simply offered the opportunity to create – to paint or sculpt or draw – and they freely determine the end product.  A teacher does not show an example, provide materials that suggest an outcome or give instructions.  The beautiful blobs of paint, freely drawn shapes & objects and pile of glued collage materials are examples of art. 

When creating art, students make decisions and exercise their imagination skills.  It is essential that early learners have the opportunity to freely create every day.  Children learn that they are capable of making decisions by being given the opportunity to do so.  They expand their knowledge base by exploring their own curiosity about the materials and possible outcomes.  While creating and using their imaginations, young children who are creating an original piece of art are able to hone their fine & gross motor skills.  They use the scientific method and critical thinking skills as they explore the medium in a way that is based upon their own curiosity and desire to problem solve.  They give us a window into how they view the world and where they each are on the developmental spectrum.  Every piece of art looks different and children learn to embrace what they have conceived and created.

Crafts, on the other hand, are created with a particular product in mind.  When children participate in a craft, they are more focused on a product.  The teacher or parent has a particular outcome in mind and provides materials to encourage that outcome.  The items produced all look similar. 

When asked to create a product, children are making a craft.
Making a craft teaches children to follow directions to reach a goal.  The children will all be encouraged to make the same or a very similar item.  They likely will have seen a sample of how the final product should look.  While not all children are able to create the exact outcome, the products will be variations on the same theme.  All of the students might be trying to create an assigned animal, item or group of people.  This is often referred to as “cookie cutter” art – and that is a misnomer.  If all of the students are producing the same or very similar products because of a common goal, it is not art at all.  It is a craft.

While art is open ended, a craft is closed.  Art is about the individual and his/her abilities and perceptions.  A craft is about the product and not the person creating it. 

I have had child development students, early childhood professionals and parents ask, “So which is more important?  Which is a better use of time – art or a craft?”

I always respond by acknowledging that both have merit; however, the opportunity for self-expression is rarer in the course of the average day and, in fact, in the course of an average life.  We spend a great deal of time following directions and working toward goals that come from outside sources.  As adults, we have responsibilities and people in authority who limit our ability to be creative.  The same is true for children.  They spend a good portion of their days being asked to follow the directions of adults.  They follow multiple step-by-step processes every day.  It is only with intention that children are given the opportunity to create from their own imaginations.  In order for them to become confident in their own knowledge and abilities, we must let them explore freely.  

Ideally, children will emerge from the early childhood years and childhood as a whole with the knowledge that they are capable thinkers who are able to make good decisions. In order for that to happen, they must have many opportunities to create without the constraint of passing and failing, pleasing and displeasing.  They must be able to just do and have the world think it’s wonderful.

And so, the more art the better….

Are you looking for other ways to have more meaningful learning in your classroom?  Sign up for my upcoming webinar “Improve Your Circle Time:  Make It Time Well Spent” – click on the title for details!  Participate live or sign up to ensure that you get the replay in your email.

________________________________________________________________________
You can learn so much more from me online!  “Helping Preschools Achieve with Cynthia Terebush” – An Online Learning and Support Community for Early Childhood Professionals.  Now with individual memberships and staff bundles.  Check out my informational video HERE and go to Helping Preschools Achieve for more details. 

And in person….Go to my full website for information about webinars, presentations and individual consulting for parents and educators -Helping Kids Achieve.

Copyright 2016 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

“Hi Cindy. Just wondering what you suggest we tell the children about the election…”

“What do we tell our students who are talking about their parents’ reactions to the election?”

“What do you suggest I say to my children about the outcome of the election?”

I have received a number of emails from parents and from teachers asking what I suggest we say in classrooms or at home.  I am humbled to be asked and I hope this post helps those who are struggling or are unsure about what to say.

First and foremost, I believe in telling children truth.  They know when we are not honest.  We need to find a truth that they can understand.  It doesn’t have to be terrifying.  It just has to teach our children a most basic lesson about life.  So what is the truth of these events?  If we strip away the sensationalism, the emotions and the rhetoric what is left?  What remains is what always remains when life seems daunting.  We have some things to learn.  That is what we tell the children.  We have things to learn about each other and how things work.

When you have lived a while, you come to know that the greatest learning comes from the hardest times.  No matter who you supported in this election, the country is not the same.  There is a shift, a change and we need to pay attention and learn from it. We need to learn to listen to each other more closely.  There are people who weren’t happy with how things were on both sides of the political aisle and too many people didn’t listen.  Young voters said, “No – we don’t want that establishment.”  Other voters said, “We want change.”  We became polarized instead of trying to find the common ground. What do we tell the children?  From everything, children, we try to figure out what we need to learn.

Let’s learn to listen to each other a little more.  Teach the children that now is the time that we have to try harder to find what we have in common instead of what divides us.  Let’s learn about the people who thought differently and open ourselves up so they can learn about us.  Let’s do it with kindness, compassion and empathy.

We tell our children that in every life, there is happiness, sadness, joy and disappointment.  That is true for people and for the life of a country.   We will be okay.  That is truth because resilience is real and we can all be brave and resilient.

We inform our children that it is evidence that we cannot believe everything we hear on our televisions or on the internet. The information has been so inaccurate.  We need to do a better job of ignoring fiction and looking for fact.

We teach the children that in America, we still have a right to say what we think and that’s as true today as it was yesterday.  This is a great country because it is bigger than just one person.  When you believe in something or you don’t, you still get to say so. Let’s all just work to say it a little better with a little more respect and caring for each other. 

We will be okay.  We will learn our lessons.  People have an amazing ability to adapt, change and move forward.

________________________________________________________________________
You can learn so much more from me online!  “Helping Preschools Achieve with Cynthia Terebush” – An Online Learning and Support Community for Early Childhood Professionals.  Now with individual memberships and staff bundles.  Check out my informational video HERE and go to Helping Preschools Achieve for more details.
 
And in person….Go to my full website for information about webinars, presentations and individual consulting for parents and educators -Helping Kids Achieve.

Copyright 2016 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

An Open Letter To Parents From Early Childhood Educators - We Need Your Help

Dear Parents:

You are your child’s most important adult.  You are your child’s primary teacher.  Yes, I am charged with teaching your child but I cannot do it without your help and support.  Your influence over your child is infinite.

I am a parent too and I know how frustrating, tiring and overwhelming parenting can be.  I understand that sometimes you think, “That’s it.  I can’t do it.  I’m handing this over to the school.”  Unfortunately, that cannot work.

I see it as my life’s work to help teach your child the skills that will that will lay a foundation for future successes as well as the ability to bounce back from failures.  I will teach your child that there are boundaries and expectations.  I will help your child to have an understanding that the world is bigger than just one person so we need to be kind, respectful, tolerant and accepting.  I will be as calm and consistent as I can be while guiding behavioral choices and socialization.

I will try to encourage questioning, curiosity and a love of discovery.  I will look for the curious glance and listen carefully to your child’s questions.  I will give as many opportunities as I can for your child to become a critical thinker who enjoys exploring, learning, literature and creating.

I only ask that you recognize the influence that your actions have on your children’s behavior and values.  I can tell your child that hitting is not allowed but if you hit your child, the point is lost.  They will not believe that hitting is unacceptable. If I say that an action is not acceptable but you accept it, I will never be able to steer their actions in another direction. 

I can say that reading and writing are wonderful but if they never see you read or write, they will not value those activities. I can tell them that learning is a wonderful thing but if you tell them that you hated school, they will be prepared to hate it too.

Please be my partner in trying to forge a positive and forward thinking path for your child.  Hear me when I need your support and I will listen when you need mine. Be in this with me and when you feel that you cannot, know that I understand.  I will happily remind you that you can.  Together, we can do all that can be done to help your child succeed.

Sincerely and with the Best Interests of Your Child Always at Heart,
Your Child’s Early Childhood Teacher


________________________________________________________________________
You can learn so much more from me online!  “Helping Preschools Achieve with Cynthia Terebush” – An Online Learning and Support Community for Early Childhood Professionals.  Now with individual memberships and staff bundles.  Check out my informational video HERE and go to Helping Preschools Achieve for more details. This information is also great for parents who want a better understanding of early childhood education.

And in person….Go to my full website for information about webinars, presentations and individual consulting for parents and educators -Helping Kids Achieve.

Copyright 2016 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.