Process Art Vs. Product Art
I was teaching at another preschool around Mother’s Day and the children were making their mom’s flower pots to give as their gifts. As I observed the project from the other side of the room where I was teaching I had noticed something that really bothered me. Each flower pot had to be made EXACTLY the same way, there was no creative process or personalization not to mention that after the children left that area to move onto another the teacher in charge of that center was “fixing” their gifts so they were just like the other ones.
That is a perfect example of “product art.” Where the project needs to look a certain way otherwise you have not done it correctly. Now don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times when children need to be able to follow directions but in my opinion art should rarely be one of them. Children can become self-conscious of their ability (or lack thereof) to make their art work look how it is supposed to which can cause defiance rather than compliance. The children who are not as capable with their fine motor skills may start acting up to try to avoid doing the project all together.
Coming back to the flower pots for a second, would it have been so bad if the children painted what they wanted to on the pots for their mothers? Or perhaps could decide to use the flower pot to make a monster for their mother instead because they knew their mom liked monsters more than flowers. Would that be so bad? As a mother I would much rather have a gift that I know my child made herself with her own creative mind than a cookie cutter gift that looked exactly like all the others.
So what is process art and why should you seek out process art activities rather than product art activities especially for younger children?
As the name suggests, process art focuses on the process of making the art rather than the outcome. You provide the materials and you let your child (or student) get lost in the experience. You can still tie this type of art into your themes if that is what you would like to do. For example if your theme is leaves and you have read the story Leaf Man, by Lois Ehlert you can set out all the materials to make a leaf man BUT if the child sees something else that they might want to make with the leaves besides what is in the book that is totally ok, it is up to them!!
What are the benefits of process art?
This type of art will naturally put your child in charge instead of always waiting for direction from you. Overtime they will learn to trust themselves instead of seeking external validation.
Children learn to trust themselves and their own ideas. They will become very proud of themselves and what they have created.
Process art can be a great learning experience. Children might need to problem solve if they have a specific plan of what they want to create. They can experiment with different materials by mixing paints, different mediums and the weight of different items they are using to create their projects. Fine and gross motor skills are also practiced here. We want to instill a love of learning at a young age and process art activities can truly do that.
There are so many benefits to process art for children of all ages. At Mini MozArts Preschool we believe in child centered learning and process art is one of the many ways we can achieve this. Have you made the switch yet in your home or classroom?