When you think of art and preschoolers do you think of crafts and splashes of paint at an easel? Preschoolers are ready for so much more. Sharing a wide variety of fine art with your child at an early age can ignite the imagination. Preschoolers are the perfect age to go to an art museum. They often see more in a painting than many adults. Children are drawn to color, movement, mystery, and emotion.
Things to keep in mind when spending time with a young child at a museum. Having an enjoyable time is about expectations. Keep your expectations flexible and realistic. Follow your child. Your child may be drawn to a particular room so go there. Their interest may wain in 45 minutes, so know when it’s time to leave.
Ask open-ended questions about any painting your child is naturally interested in. “What do you see?” "What colors did the artist use?” "What do you think is happening?” Depending on the child you may try, “How does it make you feel?” and “How do you think the artist did that?” Try not to tell them what to think or feel about a work of art. Leave it open to their interpretation.
Even better bring two sketchbooks, one for each of you. Let your child draw while looking at the painting. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look like the painting to you. This should only be for a few minutes. You’re building habits and helping your child learn to take a little time and look at a painting. Chances are you'll both discover something you didn't see at first while drawing.
Don’t expect to spend a long time at the museum. Many families bring a picnic or get a little lunch after their museum visit adding to the fun of the day.
Lastly, be sure to pick up any brochures from the museum. Perhaps there is one with a picture of a painting your child liked. Many museums have programs for families that include a story time or an art project. Museums also have reciprocal memberships with museums around the country so you can enjoy new art whenever you travel.
If you were never a museum person you may find your child's curiosity opens up a whole new world for you to enjoy.