Taking time to look

Published by Lori Pickert on January 16, 2009 at 01:52 PM

Parent 4: Sometimes we don’t recognize how capable children are of drawing what they see and how much they take in and the value they give everything they see. And how they build upon what they know. Sometimes we have to provide help for that to happen. Children are very intelligent and we don’t take the time to realize their capabilities. We don’t build upon what we think they need to know in order to grow. Sometimes it’s easy, when the child hands you a picture, to say, “Wow this is a wonderful picture,” and then you put it away. But, you should take time to look at that picture as we are doing right now and look beyond that one picture and save it. And give it the significance that the child has given it. Do that with everything the child gives you.

Parent 2: You know, she’s absolutely right because just the other day my son drew me a picture of my family and I just threw it in a drawer without giving any thought to what he was really trying to say.

Parent 4: The children always try to be the center of attention, but as a parent sometimes you’re just too busy, you’re just trying to redirect them to do something else.

Parent 3: …Five minutes is not too much of your time to come work with a child who gives you a picture; five minutes to actually explain, and understand, and to take that time to ask, “What were you thinking?” “What are your ideas and why did you draw this?” …

Parent 1: …[A]s a parent, when a child gives you a picture, I think it’s important to document yourself, what your child said to you and what they felt and what that represented [to them] and write that on the picture. Because once that child has given it to you and you have placed it away, they might not remember it again and then that moment is gone.

We Are All Explorers: Learning and Teaching with Reggio Principles in Urban Settings, by Scheinfeld et al.

10 comments

Comment by Sarah Jackson on January 16, 2009 at 04:02 PM

I think Parent 1 is so right. We write down what they tell us about the pictures on the back. We especially did this when they were younger and their work needed some interpretation. I have an awesome one about riding a roller coaster from home to school. One of my favorite pieces ever. And you'd never appreciate everything that goes into it without reading the explanation on the back.

Comment by Meredith on January 16, 2009 at 06:47 PM

This is excellent!! My ds 6 just brought me a little stapled together booklet with only the words I "heart" U Mommy!! I'll be smiling all day! It's definately the little things!!

Comment by katrien on January 16, 2009 at 08:52 PM

I usually sit next to Amie when she draws, and she explains to me what she is drawing. I write it down on the back or in the margin, along with the date and sometimes the place if that seems to be relevant. Then I express how I am going to keep the picture safe so I can look at it again later. We have a filing cabinet drawer full of drawings by now, and it is such a pleasure to leaf through them. Amie herself is not yet interested in that, but she will later on.

When we document a drawing, we accomplish four things: we pay attention and they know they and their hard work are appreciated, and we keep the record for later, for ourselves as well as for them, so they can know we have always appreciated their work.

Comment by Molly on January 16, 2009 at 09:33 PM

mmm hmmm. good reminder to us all. especially as the fridge gets layered with new works of art every day.

Comment by Lori Pickert on January 16, 2009 at 09:54 PM

we only had internet for about 10 minutes this morning, so i wanted to throw this up quickly .. to me it’s about white space again .. these sort of ordinary things that children do (drawing after drawing), but if we make some time and space to give them our attention, we can discover a whole treasure trove of thought behind it.

sometimes i think we are looking for something “more” when really our attention is what uncovers the “more”.

Comment by Lori Pickert on January 16, 2009 at 10:01 PM

we only had internet for about 10 minutes this morning, so i wanted to throw this up quickly .. to me it’s about white space again .. these sort of ordinary things that children do (drawing after drawing), but if we make some time and space to give them our attention, we can discover a whole treasure trove of thought behind it.

sometimes i think we are looking for something “more” when really our attention is what uncovers the “more”.

Comment by steph on January 19, 2009 at 07:28 AM

this is a poignant reminder of the moment today when, actually organizing a stack of the boy's work, I picked up a pew drawing Chas made a year ago with no title or description at all--for the art teacher in me?! that was unforgivable! seriously, I covet *everything* they create.

Comment by Laura on January 20, 2009 at 11:08 PM

Loving this discussion! I agree it is so important to *pay attention* when a child is making art or giving you art. Really take the time to look at the picture, and notice specific elements of it rather than saying something vague like "I love it". I did a little post about this very thing, in case anyone wants to check it out:
http://www.globalmama.com/2008/12/11/whats-wrong-with-pretty-talking-with-kids-about-their-art/
It's short, but I tried to give some specific examples of the sorts of things you can say to your child about their work. It's so easy to get stuck in the rut of "pretty", "nice", and "I love it". Let's get real.

Comment by Lori Pickert on January 21, 2009 at 12:10 AM

laura, so true. i’ve written here about empty praise and how to talk to children about their work. those kind of vague compliments don’t respect the effort children put into their art and their work.

Comment by Susana on January 21, 2009 at 03:21 PM

The title of this great post applies to everything in our lives doesn't it? My kids are 2 & 4, some of the best conversations we have are when we all discuss their work. Everyone saying what they 'see' in the creation. It's amazing what they will explain when we/I take the time to give them all the time they need. The learning curve to becoming more focused is an uphill battle for me. The title of this post is a great reminder, mantra. Thanks Lori.

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