Talking About Children’s Art

Talking about art with children

When talking about children's art with young artists, here are some tips to remember.

Do use:

  • descriptive language.

    For example, "You've used two colours which have mixed and made ..." or "You've worked really hard on this ..." or "You've used many horizontal lines ...."

    Descriptive language allows you to talk about the artwork being presented to you without giving judgement (positive or negative) to the children.

    By doing this, the focus is put back on what the child thinks or feels about their artwork rather than emphasising how others feel. In turn, children's self-confidence and self-esteem are positively reinforced.

  • pregnant pauses. Leave space for the child to talk about their own art work. A few seconds of quiet waiting for children to speak often has the desired result. This is a great way to encourage children to talk rather than relying on the adults to give their opinions and thoughts.

Do not use:

(or at least minimize ... or try hard to avoid ... you can do it!!! :o)

  • compliments ("That looks beautiful")
  • judgements ("I like your drawing")
  • corrections ("You need another leg because this animal has 4 legs not 3")
  • questions ("What have you drawn?). It may not be obvious to the adult but to a child, it is clear what the drawing is about. A safer option is to say, "Tell me about your drawing ..."

What do you think? Is this easier said than done? What is your normal 'fall-back' response to children?

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