Process V Product

If you work within an early years setting this may be something you have discussed in some depth. Which is more important? The process or the product? Do we focus far too much on the product children create during expressive arts sessions, rather than the actual process they go through?

Early years settings enjoy arts, crafts and getting creative as there are many benefits to this play based approach, however are too many practitioners losing sight  of what’s important and focusing too heavily on the end product instead of all the benefits the children gain through the process?

This can be seen particularly in adult lead sessions where practitioners have an end product in mind and this often restricts the exploration, active learning and creative and critical thinking for the children.  The end product is of little importance in the early years.

But what does this mean to you? Think about all the different types of art you as a teacher plan for the children, do all their drawings look the same at the end? If it does, its most likely not art.

The best way to test to see if the art activities you have created are looking more on the process side of things and less on the  finished product would be to look at the final picture. If a parent has to ask you “what is it?” Then it is process art!

Now I’m not saying product art is a bad thing. It allows children to follow a series of instructions and utilise fine motor skills, such as cutting and tracing. But it does allow the child to be creative and it can allow the child to be built up to be disappointed if the final creation does not look like the teachers.

When children are allowed to express themselves in an art project, they look more relaxed and focused. You are allowing them to predict, plan and problem solve as they make their piece of art. The children will feel successful every time as they cannot go wrong when expressing themselves. Also the children will be more open to discuss their art with you and are more excited in sharing their work as no one else would have made something like they did.

Tips for process-focused Art Lessons:

  • Provide a variety of materials for the children to play with
  • Let the child be in control, ask them what they want to use, let them go back to their work later if they want to add more
  • Give the child a lot of time to create
  • Say “yes” to their suggestions
  • Put out new and interesting materials each time you do a project
  • Take materials outside such as leaves or bark to let them use things in nature to inspire them
  • Put their art around the classroom at their eye level.

Remember – Children have their own ideas, don’t patronise them by underestimating their capabilities to create. Children are their own researches in their learning and do not need to be constantly led by adults when developing their creations. Respect their individuality. Allow your children to be interested and excited about the process and to learn at their own rate.

The world needs more artists than imitators, help inspire the thinkers and doers of the future! Teach children how to think and not what to think!

If you would like to understand more about Process V Product we have a fantastic course for just £25  per person and you can see more about it right here

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