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Your 3-year-old now
To help your child benefit from making art:
- Don't direct her work or try to teach her how to draw or make a specific thing. Give her the tools and then step out of the way.
- Lay down some newspaper on the work surface or a tarp on the floor and then let your child be messy (within reason, of course). This is one area in which she should have complete creative control.
- Let her discover new techniques. She may paint with a paper clip or glue clay to a piece of paper.
- Instead of asking, "What's that?" when presented with an unrecognizable image, comment on the color or boldness of a line, and invite your child to tell you more about it.
- Ask your child what she likes about the art. You might hear something unexpected, like, "Yellow makes me happy."
- Ask if your child wants you to write down the name of the picture, or if she can tell you a story about it.
- Display artwork in a prominent place to show your child you value it.
Some children may not sit still long enough to draw. Don't force it; try again another day with different materials. It may be a matter of finding the right medium to whet her appetite.
Your life now
Do you find yourself spending long minutes sorting blocks, cars, balls, and toy animals back into their proper containers at the end of the day? Don't. Three-year-olds are still deeply into dump-it-all-out play, and by breakfast tomorrow you'll only have another mess. Better to bring out fewer types of toys at one time, so they can be put away more easily.
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