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Let’s Hear It for the Kids!

April 14, 2015

Let’s hear it for the kids! This week (April 12-18) is Week of the Young ChildTM. Never heard of it? The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) established this annual tradition in 1971 to “focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.” This year’s theme is “Celebrating our Youngest Learners,” and here at the DMA, we love nothing more than doing just that!

In honor of Week of the Young Child, I thought I’d share what we love most about the children who have become part of our DMA family over the years.

They are honest.

AAM Feb 2015

In preschools across the country, teachers often refer to the children as “friends.” So rather than calling out “boys and girls” when it’s time to leave the playground, you might hear someone say “all my friends—it’s time to go!” I often use this language in the Arturo’s Preschool classes I teach here at the DMA. One morning as we were sitting in front of Frank Gehry’s Easy Edges chair, I asked “Friends—what material do you think the artist used to make this chair?” Without missing a beat, a little boy looked me square in the eyes and said, “I’m not your friend!” Ouch! I laughed and did my best to win him over by the time we went down to the studio. I love knowing that four year-olds will give it to you straight!

They are curious.

Another admirable trait I often see in the preschool crowd is that they are excited about pretty much anything! Wherever we go in the galleries, they always want to make sense of what they see and figure out how it connects to their own lives. Once during a class focused on the art of ancient Egypt, I asked the children to imagine what life would have been like with no TVs, no electricity, no cars. One little girl piped up with all the authority of a wise three year-old, “they used cans and strings, right?” She cleverly deduced that if the Egyptians didn’t have the kinds of phones we have today, they must have used tin cans and strings to communicate! She wasn’t deterred by the concept of “long ago and far away”—but instead, she found a way to relate abstract ideas to her concrete reality. Brilliant. (And I just love the image of Pharoah calling down to his court on a tin can).

They are open-minded.

Picasso Portraits

Young children are incredibly willing to entertain new ideas and explore new possibilities in art. While an adult might look at a painting and ask “why is this art?,” children move beyond “why” and ask “how,” “where,” “when” and “can I try it too?” This month we’ve been learning about the artist Pablo Picasso and Cubism. Inevitably, when I show the children a cubist portrait, they giggle and say “that’s a crazy face!” But then they take a closer look and are delighted when they find the nose and ears and eyes and can explain what the artist did to surprise us.

They are creative.

Arturo's Art and Me 12.2014

You can’t help but feel the buzz of creativity and the energy of little fingers at work when you step into an early learning studio class. Whether they are painting with their feet, concentrating on sewing stitches onto burlap, or experimenting with watercolor, young children are fearless when it comes to making art—something I think we can all aspire to. They dive in, not concerned about doing it “right” or making it look “just so.” They enjoy the materials for what they are, and love to see what paint or markers or paper or their own two hands can do! And when they’re done, they can’t wait to show off their work and tell you all about it.

This year, April 16th is Artsy Thursday, so grab your crayons and paint, and celebrate the young children in your life!

For more ideas on how you can celebrate Week of the Young ChildTM, check out the resources and suggestions on the NAEYC website.

Leah Hanson
Manager of Early Learning Programs

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