When a scribble is just a scribble
What color is the pink ice-cream treat? I ask my two-year-old.Lellow! she replies with confidence.What color is the blue train?Lellow!What color is the yellow school bus?Lellow!Good girl! Youre so smart!Um, were supposed to encourage our kids, right?According to a recent article in Parent & Child, art is a language, a way people express ideas and feelings. Color is a significant part of how a child emotionally experiments with art. Yellow, at least, is a sunny color. Maybe shes just a sunny kid? Maybe she sees the world through yellow-colored glasses? This is fine, I think.But then the article tells us not to judge color choices.So, lets move on. The article also suggests varying the types of paints and tools: use boxes, rocks and fabric, not just paper. I gather all the various paints we have and shuffle the kids outside. Here, I say, paint and express yourself, children!I leave them to their artistic endeavors, happy that I have provided them with this creative and educational outlet. I return to find blank paper, grey rocks and pristine fabric. What do I find instead? Multi-colored bodies. Why do kids always end up painting themselves?As I am about to ask my two girls this very question, my four-year-old looks up from painting her sisters bottom and says, Doesnt she look pretty?Here is another point in the article: Do not give general compliments, with words such as pretty or phrases such as I really like your painting! I also remember the article saying to stop and smile, giving the child a chance to discuss her art.I stop and smile. My four-year-old has nothing else to say and moves on to painting her own stomach. The two-year-old gleefully smacks a handful of red onto her cheeks. Look at me! she says. Pretty!The article says to use art as a way to introduce a variety of words to describe feelings. Here goes: How do you feel? Pretty! Look at me!My four-year-old is now focused on her own backside. She has chosen blue as her expressive color.What color is it? I ask my two-year-old, pointing to my older daughters wiggling blue bottom.Lellow!Perhaps I have not provided the right environment. The article also mentioned an art center, even if its just a corner of a room. Sounds simple enough.I eagerly break out all the pens, crayons and paints, coloring books, construction paper and boxes. During nap time, I design the ultimate in art centers. Well, OK, I put all the stuff out on a table in the corner of the room.When they awake, I excitedly pull them over. Look girls! Your very own art center, I say.The four-year-old releases the pens and crayons from their containers. She pulls out paper and begins to scribble. Scribbling is apparently a wonderfully heartfelt expression of thoughts, images, and emotions. Let the child describe this art!Ooo, I like how youve used all those different colors, I say. Why dont you describe your picture to me?Its just scribbles, she says. Meanwhile, the two-year-old has managed to scribble green all over her hands and face. Her paper is perfectly blank. Does this mean she is happy? Lonely?Look at me! Pretty! She smiles and raises her hands to my face. See!I concentrate very hard: I will find a way to use art as an educational experience. So I ask, What color is it? Lellow! Keala Francis is an Edwards resident and the mother of two. Send her a comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.