Are you embarrassed to admit that you have never made finger paint for your child? Join the club. It sounds like a messy business from start to finish and it’s definitely not the kind of thing most mothers want to do every week.But, children love it and it makes good pictures to post on Facebook.
But, children love it and it makes good pictures to post on Facebook.
And it’s good for teaching all kinds of new skills and concepts.
Also, since we’re Practica Parents, we want to experience and utilize every possible opportunity to make memories with our children and develop their brains.
It’s also practically free and you don’t have to drive your little one anywhere through heavy traffic to join in the fun.
The idea is getting more attractive by the minute! Let’s get a pot on the stove and look for the food colouring in the kitchen cupboard.
And, in typical Practica style, here are a few tips to keep in mind for getting as much developmental mileage out of the experience as possible:
1. Focus on the process and not on the product.
In other words, don’t suggest painting something that can be named like a house, a person or an animal.
Instead, use scrap paper or dismantle an old box to use the sides as canvases so that there is no pressure to produce masterpieces. Then simply show your child how to play around with the finger paint. Go ahead. Live the moment.
Don’t forget to give a running commentary of what is happening. Being laid back is all fine and dandy, but you’re still the interpreter of your child’s world and without your words he won’t be learning nearly as much as he could.
2. Demonstrate how fingers can be used for making various kinds of marks.
Pat yourself on the back when you eventually notice that your little one is starting to discover the relationship between different finger movements and their effects on what is taking shape in front of him.
Older children also need to discover this relationship if they’re not used to using their fingers for painting, so be patient and talk to your child through his discoveries regardless of age. Say things like: “Look, when you move your finger up, you’re creating an upward line! When you move it from side to side over an area that’s covered in paint you’re removing some paint – and the paper that’s underneath peeks through. Have you noticed that you can make smaller dots when you use the tips of your fingers? Let me show you how!”
3. Deliberately use the opportunity to prepare your child for learning to write.
Using the hand as a unit is great at the onset, but one of the ultimate goals for attaining school readiness is developing finger control, so gradually encourage your child to use fingers individually.
Give special attention to the index and middle fingers on your child’s dominant hand as those will be ones that will eventually help his thumb to steer a pencil when he learns to write.
Note: Hand dominance is typically only established be age 4, so it won’t be wise to encourage a younger child to use a specific hand if he is in the habit of switching hands.
4. Give special attention to talking about lines, recognizable shapes and balance.
Say things like, “Look! This line is standing straight up / lying flat / turning upwards / turning downwards / curving to the side / almost forming a complete circle / creating a corner / crossing two other lines”, etc.
Look for recognizable shapes and encourage your child to reproduce them. Here’s an example: “Look! These two lines look like the wings of a bird / these lines form a cross / this looks like a bowl! Let’s see if we can make more birds / crosses / bowls!”
Lastly, talk about how the paint is distributed over the page. For instance: “I see there’s a lot happening at the bottom and on the left side of this page, but this area is open. Shall we leave it like that, or do you think we should fill it with something? Will that create more balance or not?”
You’ll know you are making progress on the art front when your child slowly but surely becomes more interested in recognizing and recreating simple combinations and patterns and starts to pay attention to balance on a page.
5. Treat boys and girls equally.
It’s empowering to think that our words can unlock thoughts and feelings in our children that can prepare them for developing into the best versions of themselves.
So, don’t hold back on developing aesthetic appreciation in your child if you have a boy. Popular architects and engineers know how to make things look attractive. In fact, their sensitivity to style and balance is often what sets them apart.
By the same token, don’t hold back on talking about science observations if you have a girl. She is likely to experience just as much pressure as any man to take her place in the 21st century as a professional, independent and innovative contributor; she is going to need all the support she can get to prepare her for that world.