Use concepts that are easy for your child to understand. If you use a difficult word, use an ordinary term to build upon it.
Art is not about “right” or “wrong.” Art is about ideas. The arts teach that there is more than one solution to an answer. If your child’s observation surprises you, ask: “What do you see in the work that makes you say that?”
Approach your discussion about a work of art from the standpoint that you will learn from each other.
Try This at Home
Try this activity with your child at home. Take a moment to look carefully at an image; it could be a painting or a photograph, but this exercise works better if it includes people. Do the following together.
• Make a list of the colors you see in the artwork. How does the artist use color to draw us in to the picture?
• How many people are there in this picture? What are they doing?
• Where is this scene?
• What is the weather like? How can you tell?
• Works of art are sometimes divided into foreground (the view closest to us), middle ground, and background (distance). Describe what is happening in the foreground and background of the image.
• Write a story or a poem from the perspective of one of the people in the photograph.
Asking kids what they see helps to teach language skills, while providing opportunities for reflection, creative expression, and discovery. More important than building critical thinking, looking at art with your kids provides a special moment to relate to your child’s everyday life and to share a personal learning experience.
DANIELLE CAVANNA earned her M.A. at Boston University and her Ed.M. at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is currently director of education at the Westport Arts Center, a Westport, CT-based visual and performing arts organization offering educational programs including interactive gallery tours, after-school and weekend workshops, summer arts camp, birthday parties, and, new this year, WACky Family Sundays. Contact Cavanna at [email protected]. The Westport Arts Center is at www.westportartscenter.org.