Humans, including kids, especially kids, are creative people. We all need a chance to express our creativity.
The adult’s job is to facilitate, not to direct. I provide materials, I explain a new process, I may set some ground rules, depending upon what we’re working with. And then I step back and see what my kids need to realize their own unique vision.
Open-ended means there isn’t a set end result in mind. If everybody’s finished project looks the same, nothing really creative took place. There is nothing inherently wrong with making specific crafts with children, but we shouldn’t confuse the two. We need to make sure open-ended creativity is also taking place.
Process-oriented means the main interest is in the doing, not the finished product. A recognizable “product” may be the result, but it’s not the main goal. Exploration leads to discovery.
It’s hard to be creative if you’re not allowed to be messy. I’m 39 years old, and I often make a mess while creating. I don’t expect my kids (or the studio) to emerge clean from a creative session.
Children deserve the time and space in which to explore their ideas. It’s not the adult’s job to foresee and prevent “mistakes.”
There are no mistakes in our studio, only opportunities for learning and for going in a different direction than perhaps we thought we would.
We inspire one another. It’s not called “copying,” it’s inspiration. We make art together and we get ideas from each other and they zing around the room like live things, infecting us all and taking us in unexpected directions.
Adults should not write on children’s artwork, ever. Don’t cut it, don’t make something else out of it, don’t manipulate it in any way unless asked, and even then, think twice. Everybody’s creative process is worthy of respect.
Making art should be fun, not stressful. Embracing an open-ended, process-oriented approach means the burden is off the adult. (See: Facilitator, not Director.) You don’t have to be an accomplished artist; you just have to be open to playing with the materials—or at least open to encouraging your children to play with the materials.
Play. Create. Explore. Have fun.