I will never forget one particular present that my mom gave me for my 4th birthday. Even after all these years, I still remember how excited I was when I saw what was inside this big, plain brown box.  It was stuffed full of every art supply that a child could ever need! Needless to say, art and creativity played a large role in my formative years, and it is my belief that it should also be playing a significant role in the lives of all young children today. The benefits of an environment that is rich in creativity and where self-expression is encouraged are endless. It is our responsibility as teachers and parents to provide such an environment so that the creative process can be seen through the daily routines of our children.

When it comes to using the words “creative art” and “self-expression” in relation to preschool aged children, we may tend to think of the “mess” that comes along with finger-painting, the repetitive “scribbles” that are the product of some crayons and a piece of paper and let’s not forget the “disaster” of turning them loose with some basic art supplies like glitter and glue. Now stop and think about what words a child would use to describe their art and I am 100% sure they would not include mess, scribbles or disaster. In their eyes they have created a masterpiece, and that is exactly what it is…a unique, one-of-a-kind masterpiece!

Through the process of a child creating a “masterpiece” they are doing so much more than just having fun and playing. They are actually learning a lot through doing art activities and exploring their creative side. A wide array of skills can be acquired through art, ranging from communication and emotional skills to fine-motor and problem-solving skills. What a child creates is also a fantastic way of observing their growth and progression from one developmental stage to the next. As a teacher, I would always use pieces of a child’s artwork in combination with a developmental checklist to track and record their progress. It was always amazing to see the difference 5 or 6 months could make just by looking at a few pieces of art!

One thing that’s so wonderful about creative art and the self-expression that comes along with it is that it’s so easy to provide. There are no expensive parts or accessories needed, rarely, if ever, do we have to worry about something breaking and when it comes to buying supplies and materials for our little ones to create with…a little bit of money can really go a long way! Little did I know that the inside of that simple box was a whole new world of fun, filled with colorful construction paper, crayons and markers, paint with brushes, stencils, glitter, molding clay and much more! The great thing is that all of those materials are in-expensive and can be found at any retail store today! They are not the new popular toy or some fad that is quickly on its way out, they are tried and true materials that should be made available to every young child out there. So next time you’re at the store, try picking up a few of these items that you think your child will enjoy. When it’s time to get creative, make it extra fun and special for your little one by creating your own “masterpiece” right along with them. This will create an excellent opportunity for you to allow your child’s confidence to soar simply by mirroring his or her artistic style and always keeping your art on the same level as theirs.

Now, go ahead and give it a try. I do believe that you will be pleasantly surprised by the benefits that can be seen through the natural process of creating. Allow your child to explore experiment and discover on their own terms, through their own process. By following this process, your child’s skills will develop naturally and their ability to create their own unique image will continue to grow!


jessie Jessie DeGraffenreid

Springfield 3 Assistant Director