Now, if you know anything about me as an early childhood teacher, you know that I think choice is important and that I want kids to follow their interests. We often have activities that have little or no interest on a particular day. And that's fine.
But this year I've noticed something interesting about my little group of kindergartners in my church kindergarten class. They are not really all that interested in using art materials.
I often have no one go to the art table to even check on what's there. For the first few weeks, we had out painting every week. No one painted.
My group likes to be creative in many other ways. They like to explore blocks and build interesting balancing towers.
They enjoy playing games together. One day we played a counting/math game over and over and over.
They enjoy working puzzles. And even trying to work them out of the frames.
They do like to write sometimes. Or draw. So the writing center gets some attention from time to time.
But the art table is often neglected. And when they do go there, they like to do it as a social activity. They will talk and interact with one another or enjoy an activity that is more cooperative in nature.
Having a group that is less interested in art means that I plan in different ways.
1. We still have an activity at the art table (even if no one does it). It's important to provide that option every week. You never know when a child will need that outlet. Or if something happens in the room that leads a child to go to the art table.
2. Sometimes an art activity will be available for two weeks instead of just one. If no one does it, I may not plan a new one for the next week. The previous one makes a return appearance, just in case someone decides to choose it. (But after two weeks, something new appears.)
3. I make sure to tell my kids what's at the table. They often head directly to blocks or games and may not look at the art table on their own. I will tell them what's there in case it sounds interesting to them. (I have done this in the past, but it seems more necessary with this group.)
4. If we are doing a painting activity, I don't pour out paint until someone is ready to do it. I have washed some paint down the sink by putting out a pan of paint that no one uses.
5. My activities are less elaborate but still engaging.
6. I look for ways to include some options for art sometimes in other centers (like blocks or dramatic play). By including art in areas that seem more engaging to this group, I increase exploration opportunities.
Each year I learn something new (or am reminded about something) regarding teaching young children. This year my group is reminding me that it's okay if something isn't done in the room. And that the room should be about them and not about me or a preconceived idea of what activities should be done.
My kids don't really do art. But they do create and they do learn.