The Primary Art Experience
"If we try to think back to the dim and distant past... what is it that helps us reconstruct those times, and to picture the lives of those who lived in them? It is their art... It is thanks to the hand, the companion of the mind, that civilization has arisen." —Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
What is Primary Art All About?
In Primary, art is very much tied with the typical Montessori goals: to help a child increase dexterity, concentration, fine motor skills, hand and finger strength, and coordination. The artwork here is more about the process than about the resulting piece of art. The goal is a child’s focus, not a frame-worthy product and the child may work at a faster, less careful pace, especially at first. After all, the child works not to develop a product, but to develop a self. Parents assist in this development by using descriptive language rather than praise. Describing the colors and materials the child used and the effort that you may have noticed they put into their project will provide more encouragement and understanding to the child, than falling into the trap of saying “good job”.
Many Different Mediums
Art materials are kept neatly on the shelf, ready for exploration once that particular material has been presented to the child. Beeswax crayons, oil pastels, colored pencils, watercolor, clay, collage materials, and easel painting are available for the children to use any time they wish throughout the day. Children exploring their creativity is visible through the classroom, embroidery sewing in Practical Life, creating complex patterns with the concentric circles, squares and triangles from the Sensorial area, using metal insets to in the language area to create beautiful designs (a work designed to refine hand movements for writing) illustrating written work and decorating booklets happen daily and weather permitting the children love using art materials outside.
The Why Behind the How
There is plenty of creative energy involved in a child engaging in art. One child may choose to paint first thing in the morning as a way to ease into the day, while another may use the opportunity for self-expression to harness her creative energy for the day! Making art is a wonderful way for a young child to express feelings for which he may not yet have words.