How to Talk to Your Children About Their Art

Most parents want to encourage their children to be creative. But when you’re passed a page of poster paint splodges or another stick figure drawing, it can be hard to know how to respond with genuine encouragement… Here are our top tips for talking to your children about their art without having to pull out “That’s lovely” or “…What is it?” for the umpteenth time:

Try asking questions

Rather than jumping straight to your ‘feedback’ open up a conversation by asking your children questions about their work. What materials did they use? How did they create that effect? Which elements were tricky? What was their inspiration?

Be specific and use descriptive words

Show your children that you are really paying attention to their works by being specific about what you say. Rather than saying a general “That’s good” try something like “I love the way you’ve used shape/colour/texture here…” or “That’s a very realistic horse/ship/person…”.

By chatting specifics with our kids about their art we encourage them to build their creative repertoire and show them we value what they do. Use descriptive words to talk about texture, colour, shape, size and try using words they might not usually use to introduce them to new vocabulary.

Here’s how to break it down:

  • Colour – Point out colours, noticing if they’ve mixed any colours themselves or used colour in an interesting and unusual way or gone for a realistic look.
  • Shape – What shapes can you see? Point out how they’ve used different shapes to make one object/character.
  • Contrast – How do different elements of their piece contrast from each other? Dark and light colours? Contrasting textures/sizes etc…
  • Composition – How have they structured their work? Is one area busy, one empty? Acknowledge the effect use of composition can have.
  • Materials – What materials have they used today? Notice if they tried any interesting/new techniques with these materials?

Acknowledge their efforts

As well as commentary on the visual, acknowledge the effort they’ve put into a piece of art. Notice how carefully/enthusiastically/long they worked.

Encourage creative thinking

Keep their creative juices flowing by asking your child what they could add to further their creation. How could they fill large blank spaces? How could they increase the size of their work? Could they add another character? Could they add more to the story they’ve depicted? You don’t need to have any ideas yourself, open up the option and let their imagination run free.

Talk emotions

Getting arty is wonderful for our kids mental wellbeing. It gives them space to process situations, experiences and observations they can’t fully process in other ways and allows them an outlet to express their emotions. Next time your child presents you with a work of art or a craft construction, ask them how the process and end result has made them feel. Did they enjoy it? Are they proud? Did they get frustrated? Are their sad elements in the story they’ve illustrated? Once they’ve shared their opinion, share yours too – our kids love to hear more than a three-word remark from us.

Think about body language

Don’t forget how perceptive our kids are to our body language as we look at their art. Stop and really engage with them, smart devices down. If they ask you to hold their work, hold it with care and be careful where you put it down. We have a responsibility to show we value their time and creativity – let them see what’s important to them is important to us too!

To encourage your kids to problem solve and talk about their ideas why not try creating as a family team with our Creative Heroes Club family challenges.  Simply print out the activity pack and let it guide you through hours of creative exploration where the children lead the way. 


How Parents Can Support Their Child’s Creativity At Home

Wondering how you can support your child with their creative endeavours and boost their problem solving skills, increase their imagination and help them learn? Brilliant! You’re in the right place. Here are lots of easy ways you can do just that:

Encourage your children to think for themselves

Start by remembering, getting creative is supposed to be fun! There are no rules! Let your young artists think for themselves – even if their thought processes don’t make sense to you. Let them use materials in strange ways and go off brief if they want to. Creativity offers an opportunity for our kids to be free and express themselves.

Use open ended questions

As your children try to solve problems through creativity, ask them open ended questions to get them thinking (Why? What? How? Where?). The more opportunities you can give them to think for themselves and have permission to come up with their own solutions, the more confidence they’ll gain.

Resist the urge to take over…

When our children look like they’re struggling, or they’re taking a long time to complete something we consider to be a simple task, it’s easy to step in and get it done for them. Try to resist the urge to do this. There’s no rush. If they really need help, they’ll ask. Even then, if appropriate, take the opportunity to teach them how to do it themselves next time.

If your child is really stuck and getting frustrated, give them a gentle nudge with things like: “How about we try…” or “Would it work if we did this?”.

Be specific with praise

If you think your child is doing a brilliant job, tell them! But be specific. Praise is more valuable when you recognise your child’s efforts as opposed to throwing out a generic remark. For example, instead of ‘Great job’ say something like ‘I love the way you’ve used that colour/material/technique’ or ‘Wow look at how hard you’re concentrating’.

Think of yourself as a technician

At Oglee Poglee events, we often refer to the parents as creative technicians. Your job is to be there as an encouragement and hold the scissors and glue! Our kids love it when we get involved and help, but it’s important we’re helping at the right things if we really want our children to get the most out of their creative time.

Try creating alongside them

When your child is in their creative flow, you can leave them to it but use the time to bond by creating your own masterpiece alongside them. You don’t need to be an artist, play with materials just as your kids do – you may be surprised at how relaxing it is, or uncover a new skill of your own!

Don’t worry about the end results

Whether it’s their work or your own, the main benefits of creativity come from the creation process itself; try not to worry too much about whether you think the end result ‘looks good’. Don’t forget, art is subjective… there really is no right or wrong with creativity. Simply have fun and enjoy the learning that happens naturally along the way!

Ask your child to talk through their creation

Don’t let the fun stop when the paints are put away; at the end of your creative session it’s a wonderful chance to learn more about your little artists and how they think. Ask your child to talk through their work. What is it? How did they create that effect? Which was the hardest part to complete? Often there’s a brilliant story behind each drawing and invention. Allowing them the chance to share, it is great for boosting their self-esteem and showing you value their efforts.

Ready to get creative with your children? Take a look at our new Creative Heroes Club challenge downloads full of exciting creative opportunities. Download a challenge to discover a new mission to save Oglee Pip through creativity and amazing inventions – expect family bonding and lots of learning.