Last year, while I was actively searching for answers to Reese's drawing ability, I came across Drawnet: The Drawing Network. It was the brain child of Bob Steele, Professor Emeritus, UBC.
He has been creating awareness on how drawing should be seen as a language medium. He believes that:
- children have an un-coded language in spontaneous drawing.
- spontaneous drawing is an aid to the acquisition of literacy.
I have been in contact with him and he is a really nice person. I thought it would be nice to share some of the advice from him with you.
One of the first questions I asked him was how can I help to hone my child's interest in drawing and he told me this;
First 6 years of the child's life should not have formal art instruction! Do not send your child to art classes. Do not let your child watch TV programs that teach drawing. These activities will stifle your child's creativity.
Let the child explore drawing on their own. Let him develop his sense of style.
Do provide lots of love and encouragement to the child. Have discussion with the child on what he can draw.
Supply the child with art materials, stationery and ample space for drawing.
Have you noticed for the past few years, suddenly you see a lot of art enrichment centres mushrooming? In their marketing, they will brag about how they can help your child draw really well and create wonderful art pieces? Do you see that many of these teachers are not qualified art teachers? (they merely follow lesson plans with step by step instructions-that is franchising business for you!) Some of these centres even have text books!
Whenever there are art competitions, do you find that most of the art work produced by kids are very similar in style? Are these truly personal style or merely 'manufactured' style taught by art enrichment centres?
Children education is a very lucrative business (I am in this business). There are just too many enrichment centres in Malaysia. All trying to milk money out of unsuspecting parents! Malaysian parents are obsessed with them! On average, each child goes to at least 3 different enrichment classes (my observation from friends' kids and my own students). *sigh* Children hardly have time to play and rest. Common complaints I got from some of my students: " I have no time to play", "I have 4 tuition today. I have ballet, English, Enopi Math and Chinese class!", "I am so tired".....
Sometimes when I confront parents about their kids having too many classes, their typical response:
"No choice, no time to teach them. Let others do the job"
"They do nothing at home so it is better they go for classes and learn something."
"Oh.... ballet, swimming, piano classes are non academic mah! It's fun!"
"Mental math is good for you. Helps the child in his math and so is right brain and left brain training....bla...bla...bla..."
At the end of the day, when you bombard your child with too many activities or classes, the child will experience burnout! What a child needs, is to be a child. Don't you agree?