Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Great Beauty Of Valentine's Day In Preschool

Children often comment that they are making something for their mom or dad or sibling or grandparent. Often they designate their painting or drawing for a friend inside or outside of class. We want, of course, children to learn to be self-motivated, but there are few things more beautiful than watching a child create something with someone else in mind.

Not that what I do here on the blog can be considered beauty in the same sense, but it's certainly what I do as I write, often thinking of but a single one of you as I put the words together. What will she think about this? I wonder if he'll object to that? It's what you're taught to do as a writer, a profession I pursued for 15 years: to think of your intended audience. Naturally, performing artists are always considering of their audience. I've never heard anyone give that advice to painters or sculptors, but maybe they should. I know as I create my own art, my mind is often chewing over what people might say or think or feel as they experience the work I've done.

So as much as we want to let children express their own creativity in their own way, for their own reasons, to explore their own paths, to satisfy their own curiosities, it's only natural, that they should also, especially as they get older, be thinking of how their artistic expressions will be received by others.

That's the great beauty of celebrating Valentine's Day in preschool. So many of them come banging through the door on the morning of our Valentines exchange, bubbling about what they've made for me, often going into great detail about their process, the colors, the candy they've affixed to it. You get the feeling that many of them are genuinely imagining the joy they are going to bring to others. I sit and listen as they cut out their hearts in class, discussing the person for whom they're performing this labor of love. My sister looooves purple. Do you have any green paper? That's Daddy's favorite color.

Yesterday, our Pre-K kids were "sewing" these hearts. I can't recall where I got this white plastic mesh, but I suspect it was from a fabric store and I suspect it's something for needle-pointers to use. We cut out heart shapes and threaded real yarn needles for the kids. They struggled with it a bit and they didn't really turn out the way I'd envisioned: the kids got their fingers tangled, the yarn snagged on the ragged edges, and they had to wait patiently, or not so patiently, as we adults charged up a needle with the red or pink or purple yarn they needed. And every one of them, at some point in their process, let the rest of us know about the loved one who was on their mind as they struggled.

That's what Valentine's Day in preschool is all about.

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1 comment:

Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

This is so true, and what I also enjoy about Valentines Day, there is alot of goodwill in the process of creating valentines of some form for a particular person, and I can just hear your children as they think and talk about their intended recipient.
I agree that in writing, and art we do think of the intended reader or consumer of our product, as do children when creating their art.
I loved this post!