Contributor: Here is an article from Scholastic Parent and Child magazine. The interview is with Bev Bos. Here is her Bio!
“I have been the Director and Teacher at the Roseville Community Preschool in Roseville, CA for over 40 years now. During the early years of my teaching I developed a reputation as a play advocate and as having a knack for developing creative art activities for young children. This led to other educators asking me to present workshops to their school’s staff members and parents on these subjects. I never imagined I would still be doing it after all this time, but in looking back, I know it has contributed greatly to my growth as a teacher. In an effort to help my fellow educators, my presentation subject matter has grown and developed over the years as well and ultimately culminating in the authoring of four books for teachers and parents: Don’t Move the Muffin Tins – a hands off guide to art for young children, Before the Basics, Together We’re Better, and Tumbling Over the Edge – a rant for children’s play.
Since the mid-70’s, I estimate I’ve presented over 6,000 workshops and keynotes on topics relevant to the field of early childhood education. I have been fortunate to have traveled to every state and also to Canada, Japan and Europe to speak as well. After forty years of classroom experience I still find myself “in the trenches” and I very much appreciate the credibility this has given me with my peers. I continue to accept invitations to speak for teacher organizations, parent groups, child care professionals and college classes.
In addition to my books, I have also produced two DVDs for parents and teachers titled, Starting At Square One and Come On And Sing, and recorded ten CDs of music and storytelling with Michael Leeman and Tom Hunter – published by Turn the Page Press, Inc., a company I own and operate. When I’m not at the school or on the road for a speaking engagement, I perform community concerts for families with young children with Michael Leeman, my son-in-law. I have five grown children, fourteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Over the years, whenever I’ve shared a new idea or introduced a new activity to the classroom, I’ve often resorted to the phrase, “. . . this is the very best thing I do” not so much to blow my own horn, but to hopefully inspire people who work with children to re-connect with the unabashed passion and curiosity of their own childhoods and to bring it back to their teaching. After all, isn’t that what all children deserve from us?” http://www.bevbos.com/blog/?page_id=3
PARENT and CHILD: Why do you believe creativity is so vital for kids?
Bev Bos: I see kids who are creative as problem solvers. They have the ability to say “I can do this a different way.” They are self-assured; they know themselves. Parents are always asking “How can I motivate my child?” Well, creative people are motivated. They’re always searching- always looking for a different way to do things. They want to find out “What can I change?” and “How can I use this?” It’s an amazing thing!
P&C: What do you feel parents’ role should be in fostering their child’s creativity?
Bos: First, parents need to set up an environment in which their child can have access to materials. They also need to be very careful about imposing their own ideas onto their child’s art. And they need to praise sparingly, not just mechanically.
P&C: You’ve talked in your writing about the difference between art and crafts. Could you tell parents what the distinctions are?
Bos: Well, it seems to me that two things can happen with crafts. First of all, you often have in mind a specific final product, such as a soap dish, that looks a certain way. The other thing that happens with crafts is that usually the parent or the teacher has to spend a lot of time preparing for the project. With art, though all you do is give out materials for the kids to use- like torn paper, paints, or collage material. We’re big on collages at our school.
P&C: So art has no specific product in mind?
Bos: Right. With some crafts the child may need a lot of adult assistance, and sometimes the adults makes a model for the child to copy.
P&C: What if parents want to purchase the art supplies you mentioned but they’re on a tight budget? Any suggestions?
Bos: I think that parents can fall into a trap when they go into a store and see a lot of expensive art materials. In our school we’ve never bough construction paper. We go to a place that prints calendars and books, and they give us whatever they’ve got left over, so we get enough paper in on trip to last us about a year. Of course, this would take some doing and perhaps planning for parents. But, for example, I think if they got a roll of butcher paper they could share it with neighbors. Paint doesn’t have to be terribly expensive, either. Discount school supplies stores carry it. Kids get so much other stuff during holidays that doesn’t last, and perhaps they need a little bit of that. But, you know, for a lot less money, parents could invest in good art materials- creative things for kids to us- that would be long-lasting.
P&C: What creative art activities and materials do you find children enjoy the most?
Bos: There are so many! There’s liquid water color. It’s watercolor paint that you put in little containers. It’s liquid, so you don’t have to wet the brush first. The colors are so bright and easy to mix. It’s just incomparably beautiful, vibrant color. We also do a tile art that every kid seems to like. We glue ceramic tiles to a board, and some of them are in different shapes. Kids just love those tiles because they’re so cool to the touch. The children put their faces on them before they paint them. There’s also the clear easel. One child paints on one side and another child paints on the other side- and they can see right thought it and watch each other create! We have lots of them, and we also have two easels that are connected, so four kids can paint at one time. Of course, the nice thing is that you don’t have to take pictures off. So what you’ve really done is art for it’s own sake. You don’t have anything to take home, but you’ve done this magnificent thing.
P&C: One last question: What’s your advice for parents who want to foster their child’s creativity but don’t have access to a preschool with the resources of your program?
Bos: I think parents should sit quietly for a minute, go back in time to when they were young, and think about the things that encouraged them and the things that stifled them. Their own memories of childhood are the best guidance they can have in fostering creativity for their children.
Contributor: Another short article I really enjoy is about coloring books. Here is what it has to say!
What you don’t learn from coloring an ELEPHANT.
-How one smells
-How big he is
-What shade of brown or grey he is.
-How leathery and wrinkled his skin is.
-How soft his trunk is when it reaches into your hand for a peanut.
“I have heard many teachers or parents say, “But my children love coloring books.’ “This is quite true. Children in general, however, do not discriminate between things good for them or things detrimental. That they love things is not always an indication that they are good for them. Most children prefer sweets to vegetables without doubt would always prefer them. This, however, does not mean that we should adjust their diet to sweets.
A child, once conditioned to coloring books, will have difficulties in enjoying the freedom of creating. The dependency which the coloring book created is devastating. It has been revealed by experimentation and research that more than half of all children, once exposed to coloring books, lose their creativeness and dependence of expression, and become rigid and dependent.
Some teachers may still tell you that with the coloring book the child learns to discipline of staying within the lines of a given picture (area). It has also been proven by experiment that this is not true at all. More children color beyond the giving boundaries in coloring books than in object they draw themselves. If Johnny draws his dog, he has much more incentive to remain within his boundaries than if he colors a dog in a coloring book to which he has no relationship.”
Coloring books, as well as ditto sheets, workbooks, cutouts, patterns, and clay models are of little value in teaching preschool children. They learn before from real hands-on experiences such as field trips, cooking and science activities, manipulative materials, and opportunities for dramatic play and creative expression.
By Viktor Lowenfeld