Hands off in preschool

Hands off in preschool

In our zest to help children “create” sometimes it is easy to forget what it means to be creative…

Creativity is inspired when we give children the opportunity to explore the art process and materials without the pressure of having to do it in a specific way…

In an effort to teach children, adults get the idea that if they control a child’s movements or actions that this will help the child be more proficient with the process…

When in reality, controlling a child’s movements or actions promotes a sense of uncertainty and keeps the child focused on whether he or she is doing something right or wrong rather than focused on just doing and creating…

Inspiring a child’s confidence in the creative process calls for the teacher or adult to use a “hands off” approach…

As children are given the freedom to explore cutting, painting, gluing, and other process without an imposing agenda or an expected result – they develop greater levels of skills and greater confidence in their abilities…

Perhaps the hand print won’t end up in exactly the right place on the paper or the child will use a thumb instead of fingers in the ink stamp – but the child needs to be given the opportunity to figure it out without getting the impression that his or her efforts will be judged as doing something right or doing something wrong…

Besides, it isn’t fun having someone else control your movements as you try to create. In order to be creative, a child has to be invested in the process and in order to be invested in the process, the child needs to feel that it is okay to freely explore…


  • Leeanne A Posted June 24, 2011 7:17 am

    This is often the hardest message to send to the adults in our childrens’ lives. I am often telling other adults to just let the children be – let them have fun. Who cares if the face they just drew has eyes on the top of their head, who cares if the dog is purple. Creativity comes in many forms and so does self esteem and personal gratification!

  • Scott Posted June 24, 2011 7:39 am

    I wholeheartedly agree. I’m all in favor of askew handprints and wonky frames. When my kids are working on something, I want it to look like a 5-year-old did it, since that who should be doing it. (Of course, some of my own projects look like a 5-year-old did it, but that’s another story.)

  • Bethany Posted June 24, 2011 8:59 am

    I also feel very strongly about this subject. I fully agree that an adult centered learning environment does not encourage creativity in a child and it only produces adult directed work. Children need to be allowed to manipulate their own environment with materials suitable for their age and ability without the distraction of adults telling them exactly what to do.

  • Meg Posted June 24, 2011 4:05 pm

    Well said! I am strongly against adults manipulating a little person’s movements…It’s very disrespectful of the little person!

  • Lori Posted June 24, 2011 4:31 pm

    I totally agree! It took me a few years to realize this truth, but it is so much more fun and fulfilling to see a child create his/her own masterpiece!

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted June 25, 2011 2:16 am

    Yes it is!

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted June 25, 2011 2:17 am

    It really is rather disrespectful isn’t it?

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted June 25, 2011 2:18 am

    Well said Bethany!

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted June 25, 2011 2:18 am

    I like kids work to be “wonky” too Scott:)

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted June 25, 2011 2:19 am

    I agree and I loved that video you shared on your blog the other day. I meant to share it too!

  • Child Care Aware(R) of Central Missouri Posted June 27, 2011 4:50 pm

    I agree 100%. It makes me sad to visit an early childhood program and see “art” that was obviously created by the adults in the room, not the children.

  • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted June 27, 2011 6:23 pm

    It makes me sad too for the adults and the children. Everyone misses out!

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