Miranda was one year when I opened My Little Van Gogh, if you had came to a class you should have noticed that we have various activities spread over 4 stations that change of theme every week. On those stations we offer several games involving paint, clay that children can make by themselves, rice, plants and lots of more things and elements that they can smell and feel, and also tools ranging from rollers and brushes to wooden hammers to manipulate every element with which they come into contact.
Personally I like art, is something that drives me out of alienation of everyday life and detonates different thoughts and feelings, plus I enjoy very much to admire it and trying to do some “craft” from time to time, which however bad it could be, the elaboration process involved is something that I really enjoy. Miranda as a toddler had so much energy that I wanted for her activities to spend it, so I thought it would be a good idea to introduce her to the creative world with such messy and creative activities that we could not do at home.
Well, we started and this is what I found… we started playing with paint which seemed like a good idea to me. This were the results and why I would NEVER-EVER should have involve my daughter in this type of activities and maybe why you should not involve your kids either.
If you as a parent DO NOT want an activity to enjoy as much as your kid, forget to involve him or her in art related and creative activities, and of course, NEVER come to My Little Van Gogh. If you want to miss his or her firsts reactions when entering in contact with something completely new like paint, oobleck, clay, etc., and see her or his expression of surprise, enthusiasm and cries of excitement and laughter while experimenting for the very first time with certain elements, I think you should not come, the most likely thing to happen is that you would want to have the same age of your kid again to be able to feel what he or her is feeling.
In Miranda’s case I also noticed how she started making connections between causes and effects to reach her own conclusions. Thus even being so young, she learned to mix colors, make clay figures, use brushes, kneading with a rolling pin and use many other elements and tools intuitively. This could be very normal for an adult, but for such a small child, are giant steps in terms of cognitive development and motor maturation. I've even noticed that every week she started playing in a different way and incredibly gaining confidence, almost like she knew what she was doing, as if she could really paint, sculpt and use different tools to do so. This, as a parent is probably something that you would never like to see, ah?
Seeing her cope in this environment reaffirm a basic learning principle, children learn through experience, by discovering with all their senses to be able to create a route in their brains about how things work. For example, the first time we had a session, she ate paint and clay, but in the second session she didn’t. She learned by herself that these materials are not good to eat, but are good to do better things, and before discovering which things were this, she had to see them, touch them, smell them and taste them. Of course you don’t what to testify the learning process in your own children, right?
This is the specific case of Miranda, but in the atelier I realized that every child has a different process. There are those who observe and then imitate others, but others that are so enthusiastic that jump onto things to explore without thinking, some others are very meticulous to manipulate any tool with which they come into contact. Well I want to be very clear in this, if you don’t want to see your child in completely different, random and unrelated to everyday situations, where there are no “expected results” and freedom to go where they want to explore at his or her will, you should definitely never come to My Little Van Gogh, because you are in danger to discover the real essence and personality of your child.
There are studies that says that the first 5 years of life are crucial for the development of behavior and set the mode in what we face life as adults. Well, if you don’t want your child to build knowledge through creating, intuition, inferring, exploring and sharing, don’t involve his or her in art related and creative activities.
In conclusion in my experience, what started as a game to find activities to entertain my daughter, ended being a very complete experience for both, of fellowship, discovery and fun. Now having this activity with her, for me is an escape, a perfect start or end of a long week, a time that we dedicate to each other. I've even seen couples who go to the atelier with their children and I see what an amazing time they have, so, having this creative and artistic sessions could also result in a time of family reunion, bonding and integration to build endearing memories. But seriously, who would like to have that?
By Radha Ovalles
Psychologist and owner of MLVG