Cultivating The Youngest of Artists…

environment.jpgAs my first post for Randy Elrod’s Water Cooler Wednesday: I am so proud & excited to share the preschool that the twins will be attending this fall. Spring Hollow Community Learning Center in Franklin. Their theme is “Nothing Without Joy”. How amazing is that?

Here’s their philosophy on teaching…

  • The first teacher is the child. Children learn from themselves and their peers. Children have a natural ability to be autonomous, intelligent, kind, and creative. Children have the right to make choices, create, discover, explore and invent.
  • The second teacher is the environment. The environment is beautiful, inviting, and reciprocates knowledge.
  • The third teacher is the adult. Teachers and parents encourage the child’s natural evolution of learning and are equal learning partners in the research process of knowledge growth.

Here’s an explanation from the director, Dr. Katherline Ratliff Moon, on Unrestrained Art…ga111.jpg

Considering the word restrained provides a context to understand Spring Hollow’s goals. Defined as the action of limiting or hampering the activity or growth effect of something, this word aptly describes what adults often do when interacting with children about their creations. We limit children when we impose certain values and expectations upon them.

An example of such a value is the importance we place upon finished products. How often do we find ourselves questioning and acknowledging the product of creating rather than focusing on the process? For the young child, the exploration of mediums, colors, and shapes in the creative process is of great importance. Of greatest importance is the child’s real life and imagined experiences. These experiences are the motivation behind the child’s symbolic representations within all the art forms. An example of an expectation that can restrain a child is our fixed point of view as to what we think something should look like. To a two year old, the simplicity of one line may represent a tree. How often do we remind the child of the necessity of adding branches and leaves instead of validating the choice the child has made? Young children are going through the very important process of identifying what they think a tree looks like from their point of view. To encourage their creativity and freedom of expression, it is important that we validate each step of their journey in process. We can extend their work by our acceptance and careful suggestions.

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