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The Key to Introducing Art to Your Kid

Let’s face it, life gets hectic, so the idea of setting up an elaborate art space for your child seems like a lot of work - not to mention a lot of housecleaning (plus a lot of colored markers without lids strewn dangerously close to your white walls!). Don’t worry, I’m not here to detail how to build a state-of-the-art (pun intended) art space for your child. I am here to provide you with tips that are no fuss, no muss! The key to introducing art to your child is to start small and keep the process simple.

I have found a way to keep almost any child engaged in drawing activities, at any location, for any length of time. I call it the ‘Drawing on the Go’ purse pack. I keep a drawing pad and a marker in my handbag (and if you have no desire to keep permanent markers in your designer purse, I understand). Note: I have also improvised on a restaurant napkin with an eyeliner pencil… yes, anything is possible! This is not an innovative idea, it is like “Pictionary” - minus the big price tag.

The key takeaway here is that your young artist needs to know they do not require a perfectly set up art space to create great, fun drawings.

This activity is for any age and any ability. The process is simple:

  • Pick a topic. Ask your child to share a favorite thing of theirs (e.g., a sport, an activity, a place, or an animal).
  • Pick a marker (if you have more than one color).
  • Decide who goes first and draw something associated with the topic. If the topic is firetrucks, you might draw a house on fire, a fire hose, a fire hat, a fire hydrant with water gushing out, etc.
  • The goal is to guess what is being drawn before the drawing is finished. This process keeps the dialogue going. It can also give you and your child ideas for the next drawing!
  • Take turns drawing until the page is full. If you are competitive, you could make up a points system and play until one of you reaches 10. 

This fun drawing game has helped beat the boredom in many doctor’s offices, hockey rinks, restaurants, etc., when the kids start to become impatient (it can also draw a big crowd when guesses are flying around). Other variations of this activity include sidewalk chalk or drawing in the sand with a stick. The key is to keep it simple with minimal art supplies. On a camping trip, I used an empty Tim Hortons cup when I did not have anything else to draw on. Try it for yourself, it might result in you and your kid laughing, engaging in good conversation, and enjoying time together sans screens.

Key tips

Be vulnerable. Show your child that you are willing to try to draw something outside your comfort zone, like a Dalmatian wearing a fire hat and boots.

Make it fun. Make silly guesses and be prepared to hear silly guesses. Young kids typically like to guess that everything is about farting (who knew?).

Build confidence. Avoid generic comments like, “Great drawing!” Instead, consider being specific about what you see in your child’s drawing, “I love how friendly the Dalmatian looks.”

Encourage creative questions. Don’t be afraid to ask your child creative questions that stretch their imagination, “Where do you think the Dalmatian found boots that fit perfectly?”

Be curious. You might be surprised by what your child chooses to draw. In my experience, often children will draw things during this game that reveal topics they might want to discuss.

Take it one step further. This game is a type of visual word-association game. Take the opportunity to myth-bust or redirect and discuss some early stereotypes that might emerge; drawing a female firefighter will encourage new conversation.

A young artist’s confidence to create art is not built by succeeding every time, it is built by ensuring there is a safe place to experiment. ‘Drawing on the Go’/’Art on the Go’ is a great way to experiment with drawing many things in a short time frame, without fancy art supplies. It is also a cool way to make memories in boring places, without relying on Wi-Fi.

Shannon has been creating and selling art since she was 13. She has been coaching and mentoring pre-teens in her gallery to encourage and build confidence outside the traditional classroom. Check out her online gallery, Whiskey Jack Gallery, at shannoncarlaking.com. 

 

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