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How do I teach my dc about art when I know nothing about it myself?

(46 Posts)
spookysal Wed 07-Nov-12 11:13:57

I want my dc to be well rounded and to have a chance to explore all areas.

How can I introduce my reception aged child to art? I know I can take her to galleries but I have no idea what to look for, how to talk about it with her.

We do different crafty things indoors and I think this is a step in the right direction.

Really appreciate any advice

notcitrus Wed 07-Nov-12 11:26:36

Many have packs for children, telling them about some of the art/artists and making the gallery a bit like a treasure hunt with things to look for. Lots of fun for adults too!

greenhill Wed 07-Nov-12 11:27:02

Have you watched "Mr Maker" on CBeebies? It isn't great art but gives plenty of craft ideas, its handy for me as I'm clueless when it comes to craft related things, but my DD gets really involved with it.

Our local library has lots of art books and is a good start, you don't have to read all the info to her, just enjoy looking at the pictures together. My DD has got a book called "Katie and the Impressionists" in which the little girl wanders through familiar pictures after climbing into one at an art gallery. It really sparks her imagination.

nellyjelly Wed 07-Nov-12 11:34:25

Galleries tend to run workshops for children. Toddler ones in term time and other arty activities in holidays. Also look to see if there are any 'messy play' sessions near you. Lets children do loads of stuff and explore paint etc.

There are some good books too www.amazon.com/Art-Action-Introducing-Children-Masterpieces/dp/0764144405

Cat98 Wed 07-Nov-12 11:36:38

I'm the same - really not arts and know nothing about it! Luckily DH and his mum are both pretty good at crafty stuff so they do a fair bit with DS.
Messy play is also good. Ds seems to be following me at the moment and is more interested in books/numbers/sport than painting or drawing, but we are trying to expose him to it.

spookysal Wed 07-Nov-12 11:40:07

Thanks for the info re. Galleries, I didn't know they had information aimed at children, that would be a big help. What are the main Galleries to visit?

Greenhill that book looks brilliant, I've just added it to my amazon basket. Thank you.

Off to look at your link nellyjelly

TunipTheHollowVegemalLantern Wed 07-Nov-12 11:40:57

Go to galleries when there are activities for children on. Some have them all the time and they are often free.

If you just talk about what is in the pictures you will be developing her (and your own) skills at looking at art. Start off talking about what's happening in them, which ones you like best - you could each choose a favourite picture for each room. Which one would you have in your house if you could take one home? Let her a choose a postcard of her favourite in the gallery shop. Don't feel you have to look at everything, just head for one or two you like the look of.

Children especially like pictures with other children in. They're often fascinated by random things like a dead rabbit in a still life. When you look at portraits it's fun to talk about whether the people look nice or nasty, whether you would like to wear their clothes and live in their houses, whether they would make a nice mum/friend. Don't worry about whether or not you're saying anything intelligent, just natter to her. And don't worry about using the right language at this stage - say things like 'Do you like the splodgy ones or the detailed ones best?' Don't worry about trying to teach her facts, just have fun looking at them together!

Himalaya Wed 07-Nov-12 11:42:17

Lots of art galleries also have family workshops in the school holidays/weekends and 'art carts' for drawing in the gallery. Usually free. Back-packs are free too, but you have to leave a deposit. Look on their website.

At an art gallery don't try to look at everything with a small child (even a teenager). It is good to go in and just visit 2 or 3 things that they like, rather than drag it out till they are tired.

Having said that, i think that some children are into art and some just aren't. Try different things and see what 'sticks'.

Himalaya Wed 07-Nov-12 11:43:05

Spookysal - where do you live?

GrimmaTheNome Wed 07-Nov-12 11:44:15

Art lessons in school seem much better than they were when I was a child, so you may find she comes home with a rather lovely Monet with matchstick bridge soon grin

There are loads of sculpture trails around nowadays - have a look for some near you.

Also some galleries are much more suitable for kids than others. E.g. there's a lovely place called 'Nature in Art' outside Gloucester.

TunipTheHollowVegemalLantern Wed 07-Nov-12 11:47:29

LOL Grimma. My 5yo did a very convincing Jackson Pollock.

spookysal Wed 07-Nov-12 11:52:07

Nelly that books looks great, just trying to see if I can find it on Amazon.co.uk. I think dd1 would like recreating styles, that's a great way for her to learn.

Thanks turnip, you've made it seem very straightfoward and easy to talk about it. I did worry about doing it wrong, but I guess all I need to do is to talk about the paintings in ways she can understand and enjoy. Have fun is the key I guess.

Himalaya I live in Reading. I would feel intimidated walking into somewhere very posh so I think I need somewhere quite busy where I can merge into the background.

learnandsay Wed 07-Nov-12 12:12:07

Aren't Reception age children a bit too young for art galleries?

Here's a children's art day (This one's over. But it's probably more up a child's street.) www.engage.org/projects/artworks.aspx

spookysal Wed 07-Nov-12 12:19:08

I dont know learnandsay, are they? I know nothing like I said. Thank you for the link, will look now smile

GrimmaTheNome Wed 07-Nov-12 12:21:51

Depends on the gallery. I certainly wouldn't drag a small child round a collection of Old Masters (my dear father used to love standing and looking at each one for ages...I found a lot of them rather frightening and most were incomprehensible).

But the one I mentioned, which has lots of animal paintings/sculptures and isn't too big, would be fine. I think we first took DD there when she was 6 and wished we'd known about it sooner.

tethersend Wed 07-Nov-12 12:23:52

The best thing you can do is... Nothing!

Don't ask 'what is it?' when they draw

Don't give them colouring in

Don't tell the how to draw anything

In galleries, ask open ended questions- 'what do you think this is about?' etc.

Remember that what's important is the process and not the result.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 07-Nov-12 12:25:26

Also, apart from actual galleries, if you have days out at stately homes, you may find a few of the pictures/statues/etc catch a child's attention. Most places do kids quizzes which point out interesting details.

TunipTheHollowVegemalLantern Wed 07-Nov-12 12:26:23

Learnandsay - no, children are never too young for art galleries IMO smile
Though of course if a child is behaving badly and spoiling it for everyone else they should be taken out, no matter what the age.

Spookysal, the only one of the big London galleries I would avoid is the Royal Academy though other people may not agree. That's the poshest and has the highest proportion of Terribly Serious Visitors. All the Tates and the National Gallery and British Museum are fine for kids IME.

If you are ever in the north, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is fabulous as it's all outside so they can run around. There's a lovely sculpture by Antony Caro where the label says that the artist imagined when he made it that children would want to play hide and seek in it, so of course they are allowed to!

Local authority museums (like Reading) are usually fine because they're so keen on keeping their visitor numbers up. In Oxford the Ashmolean can feel a bit intimidating but it's so busy that you can definitely merge into the background. The museum of modern art there (not sure what it's called these days?) tends to feel different depending on what exhibition is on - if it looks like something fun and accessible, you'll generally find other kids there, if it looks more serious the atmosphere will probably be different so give it a miss.

MarshaBrady Wed 07-Nov-12 12:28:25

We go quite a bit to a local-ish one, that has old masters. Both the dc (7 and nearly 3) pick out stuff like cow or arrows. They don't have to learn much about them, just look at the paintings, see what they notice what they like. Let them talk about what they see.

We don't stay very long, but they enjoy it.

Beanbagz Wed 07-Nov-12 12:28:48

I've been taking my two DCs to art galleries since they were babies. I don't think Reception aged children are too young at all.

Plenty of good ideas on the replies here. I would also recommend Tate Art in a Box which is great for projects with DCs.

Or why not see if there's an Artbugs class near you?

MsPickle Wed 07-Nov-12 12:31:57

Don't be intimidated by galleries. Art is about experiencing thing your way and everyone's perception of things is different. Sometimes I've been to shows I was excited about and have walked away cold, other times I've been totally 'meh' on the way in and in love by the time I've left! We live in central London (easy from Reading too) and I recommend Tate modern for little ones. We've been with ds/other children as babies and with older children and always had a good day out. There is a play space on one floor with a fun slide and lots of it are free so you don't have to "get your money's worth". (And more than one cafe and a good shop) and then the south bank for running around. That said, I went to the Henry Moore show at Tate Britain with my parents and ds when ds was about 7 months and realised that my Dad was letting ds lean in and touch the sculpture, not allowed but he got away with it! I know absolutely nothing about art btw but love looking at interesting/beautiful things. Looking at them with a 3 year old is a very different experience (faster for starters!) but he sees things I don't and that's fascinating. Most of all, enjoy yourselves!

TunipTheHollowVegemalLantern Wed 07-Nov-12 12:32:49

My kids love this one in Beverley. It's absolutely massive:

World's Largest Cow Painting

Cat98 Wed 07-Nov-12 12:36:31

Why not colouring in, tethersend? <intrigued>

EduCated Wed 07-Nov-12 12:37:30

Actually, I've found children tend to prefer fine art to more contemporary art. I have actually done some research in the area, so not just wild speculation!

Tunip's post is utterly fab. In fact, I've copied and pasted it so I can save it blush But the main thing is don't worry about getting it 'wrong'. I'd actually argue that it's impossible to get art wrong. Art critics and historian's interpretations based on form and style and technique and blah blah blah are no more 'correct' or valuable than the interpretation of a 3yo who likes a painting because there's an apple in it smile

Roughly where in the country are you? I love small galleries because I find them less overwhelming. And you're never too young for a gallery!

EduCated Wed 07-Nov-12 12:40:03

Also, it's actually difficult to predict what children will like, they're as much of a mixed bag as adults! Some do like animals, others like pictures with children in, but I've also met children who are completely in love with landscapes and others who are fascinated by Renaissance pieces.

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