The line between HELPING with and actually DOING your child's artwork . . .

@much2say (40212)
United States
January 29, 2010 5:39pm CST
We've been taking arts and craft classes for a long time - my almost 5 year old and I. We already do tons of art at home (I am an artist and crafter - we have oodles of supplies). Most all the time, I guide her on what needs to be done for a project, but I let her do the rest herself. Afterall, it's HER art. Observing other moms and kids, I find that some of the moms actually DO these projects for them. I can understand the parent wanting their kids projects to look "nice" - but what does it do to make the project look pretty for them and then give the child credit for doing it? For instance, the other day, the teacher had the children glue a bunch of stuff to a paper plate. One boy took a few buttons, glued them to the plate - and said he was done. The mother kept wanting him to put more stuff on the plate, but the boy would rather play with the train set. He finally ran off - and the mother got sort of disgusted - so she started gluing things on there as she talked to the other mothers. At the end of class, the teacher called each kid up to show their project in front of everyone . . . and everyone clapped for each kid in acknowledgement. So was this boy given false confidence over a creation he didn't exactly do? The mom "fixes" his project every week we are there. Children's art, especially for the young ones, is about the process - not necessarily the result. I think as parents we should guide them, but not "do" the art for them - even if it doesn't meet our standards of what is "correct" or "nice" - let the kids go for how they see it! And remember - some kids enjoy art - others don't, and that's ok. What are your thoughts?
8 responses
• United States
30 Jan 10
Perhaps the result should never be what art is about. As a theater director of young chidren I learned early on in my career that they were never going to give me a "finished" product. I have eight of my own children, most of whom can paint and draw at above average levels, just because of their exposure to the process of creating. My oldest daughter in particular is now a magnificent painter and I cannot ever remember giving her even the slightest advice on what to do unless she asked for it. We also home school, so I have been pretty hands on with all of them. Art is about communicating something. When we judge art based on how "good" it is all we are really saying is that it does or does not speak to us personally. The artist is really the only one that can judge if they carried out their intent or not. Letting them create their own work is what matters, but I don't think it will give this young man a false sense of pride, it isn't a contest and if he's happy with his part in the project, so be it. His mom, however, needs to chill.
@much2say (40212)
• United States
31 Jan 10
I'm in total agreement! Art should never be about the result - it's the process! My husband and I are artists as well - and we try to expose our daughter to all kinds of creative processes . . . she doesn't take to all of them - and that's ok - as long as she is aware that is a process option. Art is a form of communication - and there is no right or wrong to it - so I don't know why some parents insist of fixing art for their children. You're right that the artist is the only person who can truly judge their work . . . and letting your kids do that would give them self confidence in what they do.
• United States
31 Jan 10
That being said, when asked for, constructive criticism is the only way to develop specific technique. There are also things to be said for art that is edited to communicate the artist's message in a way that will resonate with others. The use of commonly held symbolism and metaphor can be powerful tools in expressing what we feel and think in a way that can be shared. While I believe in individualism in art it urks me no end to be subjected to someone's ranting about how people don't "get" their work. If an artist chooses to put their work up for public display, be it commercial or altruistic, they should extend the same courtesy to their critics and their opinions that they want extended to them and their work. If you want your work to be commericially viable you may need to edit your process into an easily recognizable form. Sometimes self imposed limits can bring out the most in us as creators. Well, that's my thinking on it, anyhow.
• Philippines
14 Feb 10
i am also a mom of 4 year old who is in nursery. i noticed that mothers of his classmates are doing the seatwork while we were allowed to be in the class, while i leave my kid to do it on his own--i was just guiding him. anyway, even in his assignments, i dont do it coz i believe he should do it fr him to learn, i just check and again just guide him. so when my son is in the honor list (2nd honor) i am proud because i know that he got in because of his own capacity and not because i made him land in there with my help.
@much2say (40212)
• United States
14 Feb 10
We are still doing arts in crafts in class and each week I am surprised how the moms are helping their kids with the projects a little too much. It's not even help - it's DOING it! The kids don't get to exercise their creative juices, so what do they really learn in the end, right? Good for you for allowing your kids to do things on their own - yay for your honor list son!!
@dorannmwin (36698)
• United States
1 Feb 10
Well, with my daughter we really never had to do anything to help her with her craft projects. However, my son is a slightly different story. When we are trying to do something new, I have to either do one before him and let him watch or I will have to show him what he is supposed to do on a small portion of his project. However, I won't do his projects for him because I feel like then he doesn't have a sense of accomplishment.
@much2say (40212)
• United States
2 Feb 10
I can understand what you do with your son . . . that's guidance! You're not doing it for him, but you are showing him what needs to be done. The moms I see supposedly "helping" are actually taking over their child's artwork . . . that just doesn't seem right to me. My sister took my daughter to class when the baby was born . . . she noticed some of the moms doing this too . . . so we had a big discussion on letting kids do their own thing when it comes to arts and crafts (after instruction on what to do, of course).
@cher913 (25890)
• Canada
30 Jan 10
i find that this happens alot actually. my daughter had to do a scrapbooking project for school last year and i helped her quite a bit just because she didnt have a whole lot of time, but other than that, i usually let her do her own work (whether it is art or not.)
@much2say (40212)
• United States
31 Jan 10
I guess the question is what exactly is "helping" your child with their art . . . telling them how to do it, or letting them bring out their vision of the project. I think it's great when parents let their kid to their own thing!
@dawnald (84146)
• Shingle Springs, California
30 Jan 10
That reminds me of Cary. For the twins' 8th birthday, we went to a ceramic place. Everybody got to pick a piece and paint it. Cary chose a snake. He painted it red. He painted its face black. And he was done. The other children were still painting away for an hour or so. And we kept asking him, do you want to give it stripes or spots or? Nope, he liked it just like that. Now deep down, somewhere, I know there was a control freak inside of me wanting to grab that old snake away and do something more with it, because if it had been my snake I would have done more with it, but I didn't. He liked it just like that and that was just fine. I do "ahem" kind of try and guide his school work a bit though, but I don't do it for him either...
@much2say (40212)
• United States
31 Jan 10
He is a minimalist - hee hee - and that's ok! I see this particularly with boys in my daughter's class . . . they do a tid bit of the project and then they are done. It frustrates their moms a bit (particularly if this is a weekly pattern), but that's their kid's vision. We haven't gone to those ceramic places yet, but I do buy those plaster figures and we paint them at home - my daughter loves that! Guiding your kids with their work is totally fine . . . as long as it's not your work that will be graded!
@verabear (797)
• Philippines
30 Jan 10
As a kid, I used to resent that other kids' homeworks were being made by someone else, a parent or an older sibling perhaps. I've always been independent as a kid so I'd never really had anyone else make my homework for me. Sure there were times when I'd ask someone else to make an illustration for me, but the drawing isn't the actual assignment anyway... Before, I used to get pissed at my boyfriend because he didn't know what line separates helping with homework, and doing it himself. He was spoiling his nieces so much he was doing the research for them. Tsk. Sorry if i wasn't really specific about art work, but i felt like this is the same too.
@much2say (40212)
• United States
31 Jan 10
I know what you're saying - whether it's art or not. A parent can guide their children with homework or art, but they shouldn't be doing the work for them. If they do, it's not teaching the kid how to do something for themselves. I remember as a kid seeing some of science projects and such that you just know the parents helped them out with.
@bingchen (1126)
• China
30 Jan 10
i find that many thing like this often exist many family and let us to think about.sometimes many parents who do this thing only do for their children,this mind is not wrong.but this is process that children sutdy depending on themself.as parants they should correctly guide their children and not alwayse help them to finish this project.there is not any meaning for children's growing.
@much2say (40212)
• United States
31 Jan 10
Yes, the parent shouldn't be finishing their childrens projects for them - in any subject - because that wouldn't be helping them. It's not wrong to help chidren, afterall they do need lots of guidance, but to do the work for them wouldn't be right.
@emarie (5451)
• United States
30 Jan 10
well, my baby loves art. i let him do it on his own. i have a 7 almost 8 yr old and a 6 yr old. i let them mess up or do whatever they wanted since they were really small when it came to art. if it was something with scissors and cutting and they weren't sure how to, i would help them in that aspect. my husband loves art too and he tries to teach them different techniques in drawing. for me, if they don't do 90% of the work, it's not really theirs, and i want something that's made by them no matter how it looks, i love it. if they weren't interested in art, i wouldn't make them either. i don't like to be forced to do something i don't want to so why should i force my kids to? the only think they HAD to do with art it was their homework and they could do it however they wanted.
@much2say (40212)
• United States
31 Jan 10
I like that you let your kids do what they want to do with their art - and that's the way it should be. Sure, something like scissors (and scissor safety) needs guidance, but the art itself should be "their" creation. It's their time to explore different materials and techniques . . . the best way for them to learn and express themselves is to let them go for it on their own.