12 September 2011

unschool monday :: art


As soon as the owlets have been able to hold a crayon, I've encouraged them to make their mark. They hit the 8.5 month mark and suddenly they understand what I'm showing them to do and they give it a try. They smile. They love it. Next time they do it without hesitation. And they make their mark.


Art is part of our every day. At some point the owlets will pull out paper and pen, or a sketchbook and pencil, or paper and brush and they'll disappear into a world of their own for a moment. So very busy. So focused.

When Big Owlet was three, I discovered art was the key to balancing her. On those days where she was "very three", I'd pull out an easel and splodge some paint in some cups and she'd go to her happy place. She'd become calm and centred for the rest of the day. Or a great portion of it. So, I'm sure you can understand why it became part of our everyday...


I can't imagine their days without the freedom or the time to make art. When we were looking at schools for Big Owlet, a long, long time ago, we discovered her days would be devoid of her own kind of art. At the school we had chosen, she'd be encouraged to learn to make a certain kind of art. Beautiful, but not her own unique mark. At the school around the corner, creative work looked to us like colouring in. Art would be available to her, but only after school. As an extra-curricular thing. And only if she was "good" at it. How do you decide if a child is good or not. Aren't they all artists?

All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. ~ Pablo Picasso.


Now that we are unschooling, I can see the importance of art. Having observed Big Owlet's and now Little Owlet's path towards writing and reading, I've watched as letters appear amongst scribbles and squiggles. I've watched words appear as part of drawings. Then annotations and then watched as the drawings annotate the writing. I've watched them use art for counting and mathematical thinking. I've watched them dissect what they are drawing into shapes. I've seen them appreciate the art in science and vice versa. I can't imagine life without art... And so today I'm sorting through their art, for our records. I can't separate it into subject areas, so I'll keep it together in one big lump of learning. And I'll tidy up our art supply cupboard so art is always available to them. However they choose to do it and in their own time.


  1. I was lucky enough to have a mother when I was young, like you where i was always encouraged to be creative and express myself through art.
    And now as an adult I could not agree more with you. Love that quote by Picasso xo

  2. My 4 yo gets really happy from having her hands in clay/playdough of some sort. I love seeing kids express themselves freely.

  3. great post! To allow freedom in art, without control or judgement! My little one wants black ink, and black paint and black play doh. Then he smears it all over his body.
    "let go"...I say over and over as he asks for more more more paint!
    Lucky I got some great advice about "black ink proofing" the art area!


Share your thoughts...