Ever since moving to the Netherlands I got interested in art. Who wouldn’t be when surrounded with so much beauty and wonderful art works and I am not only referring to paintings in museums. I see art daily, from the way the houses are built, the statues found on the streets, the paintings hung on waiting rooms and offices. Not to mention the graffiti on the walls or the posters that can be found on each bus stop and almost every corner.
Being in the Netherlands afforded me the chance to see art in a different perspective. Back in the Philippines there is just too many hustle and bustle in the daily grind that I didn’t get the chance to stop and pause on what is going on around me. Being a stay-home mom with two small children, art became one of our family’s go-to activities.
Here are Top 5 reasons why we teach our kids art at home:
1) We get to introduce the seasons in a different perspective. Artists have one thing in common – their art is largely influenced by the world around them. The changing of the seasons are painted so majestically by a lot of famous artists. The works of Claude Monet and the haystack paintings attest to that. Looking at these artworks help them appreciate and notice details. It also helps children understand that there is a season for everything – birth, growth, blossoming and yes even death.
2) We get to introduce cultural differences. How did people dress during those times? How did people live? Why did Picasso have his “Blue period”? Why are the paintings so dark? Why are the paintings about angels? Why did they paint mostly portraits? Why mostly scenery? Why paint a can of mushroom soup? There’s quite a lot of learning involved when you show paintings from different eras. The comparison between the time before and the time now is an important lesson for young children. It showed them to look at what people valued and are experiencing at that time. This appreciation with “what was” has also given them a point of reference in valuing what they have now.
3) We teach Art because it’s a good way to teach math. Do you see the patterns? Do you see the lines? Do you see the shapes? Have you looked at Mondrian’s art? Or Escher? The contrast between the two is fascinating but both of them explored shapes and lines and the balance of both. It also teaches symmetry like the Notan designs of the Japanese. Both balance and symmetry are elusive concepts, even as adults we are trying to understand them. At least they are off to an early start in finding out what balance an symmetry entails.
4) We teach art to show them different techniques in making and producing art. Pointilissm technique as seen from the works of Seurat became a big topic with our kids. His most famous painting “A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte” is a 200 cm in height and 600 cms in width painting made up of colourful tiny dots. How can you do a painting so big with just using the tips? Must have taken a lot of patience they said. Actually doing it on their own gave them a sense of that patience. Now they learned the value of hard work in creating something.
5) We teach art because it teaches children perspective. Perspective taking is one of the essential life skills that children need to learn. Art teaches them to look at things deeper, sometimes deeper than what is visibly seen by the eye. When we talked about Romero Britto’s artwork, I used the thinking routine “Step inside: Perceived, Cared about, Know about” in looking at his artwork “The New Day”. I asked them what do they think Romero thought of when he painted it, what was he passionate about? What did he like doing the most? What else did they know about Romero Britto (and our children’s books about famous artists came in handy with topics such as this). It was interesting to hear about the children’s replies and how they were able to point out it was about “sunshine”. Looking at art gives children the power to look at things from a different perspective. It makes them look at the person who made the work and it also makes them look at how they feel towards specific artworks. It also makes them understand that what they see can be different from somebody else and that is totally ok. One can look at the same thing but see things differently from the angle that you are looking at it, or see it based from one’s own experiences. Either way, it’s understanding that we can share differences in perspective and respect each other that is the most important.
These are just a few of what children learn when exploring art and why it is important for families to get involved in teaching it. Watch out more for posts on the different art around the world and what children are exploring, learning and understanding through it.
Lana Jelenjev is a freelance educational consultant who recently got diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 37. She blogs about her activities with her children at Smart Tinker and just recently started writing about her musings on parenting as she navigates through a new territory of hospital visits, a whirlwind of feelings and in finding compassion as she battles cancer, a disease that her mom succumbed to at age 49. She advocates for the importance of early detection and encourages women to take part in her Breast Check Challenge.
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