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.