The art practice space in the living room of visual artist Tram Kha’s family (image provided by Tram Kha)
Creating an art practice space at home is a wonderful idea for children to dream and freely explore art. It is a place where they can confidently express the “Picasso” within themselves. Here are some benefits of establishing an art practice space at home for children:
Do parents have any ideas for creating an art practice space at home for their children? Below, we will introduce some suggestions for parents to establish this “small corner” in their homes.
6 suggestions for setting up an art practice space at home:
1. Find and choose a comfortable space together with your child: Ensure that this space has sufficient light and privacy but remains within the parents’ sight. It is also preferable to have this space near a restroom or handwashing area. If not, you can simply place small water containers nearby so that children can easily wash their hands and clean art tools like brushes, palettes, and containers. Additionally, avoid placing fragile glass or ceramic decorations around this area as they can easily break and cause serious injuries to children.
Creative space doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with or limited to the child’s study space. And sometimes, to change artistic inspiration, parents can allow their children to change the practical art space, such as going outside to draw or play with colors, sitting at the dining table to practice and chat with the family, etc.
2. Arranging the table and chairs: The table and chairs are essential for comfortable practice. Parents should choose a suitable table and chair height for the child, avoiding chairs that are too high or too low as it can affect the child’s posture when sitting. The chair height is appropriate when the child’s feet are flat on the floor and the knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. In addition, the table surface should be spacious, wide, and flat enough for the child to comfortably place drawing paper, colors, pens, etc. For tables that are difficult to clean, parents can add larger boards underneath to save costs. Thin cardboard or old newspapers can be used as table liners when children are practicing art.
3. Provide materials: Children are always curious and love to interact with various materials and tools. They are excited to explore what they can do with each type of material. Therefore, parents should prepare a variety of materials for children to experience in this space, but not all at once. Parents can change the materials every 5-7 weeks, as children need time to explore. Simple and easily available materials such as dustless chalk, crayons, oil pastels, markers, poster colors, tempera colors, watercolors, clay, paper, etc., can be found in any bookstore. There may be some materials that are not safe for young children, which can affect their respiratory system or cause skin sensitivity. Therefore, parents should be careful when purchasing these art supplies and ensure that they do not contain harmful substances by checking if they have the AP (Approved Product) seal. This seal indicates that the art materials are safe and certified in toxicological evaluations by medical experts to not contain substances in quantities sufficient to cause poisoning or injury to humans, including children, or cause acute or chronic health issues. This is certified by the Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) seal. Additionally, common materials found at home such as newspapers, aluminum foil, fabric, thread, etc., are interesting art materials for children to explore. Parents can reuse household items like cardboard boxes, plastic containers, plastic cups, etc., to store tools and materials. In fact, any material in life has the potential to become an art material for a project or artwork, so parents don’t necessarily have to limit the list of materials used in art creation. This is also a difference between creating at home and practicing art at school.
For example, parents can also provide old clothes or dresses for children to experiment with drawing and revamping them (Image provided by visual artist Tram Kha).
4. Personalize the space by decorating it to suit the child: Parents can decorate this space together with their child by hanging up their favorite paintings. VCVAA encourages parents to display photographs or paintings with basic shapes. It is not recommended to hang paintings with specific drawings as it may create a pattern and limit the child’s creativity. Furthermore, parents can come up with ideas and design labels for storage boxes. Let the child arrange and organize their tools and supplies in their own way in their “little corner.” This not only helps the child create their own space but also builds habits of respect and proper storage of tools and materials after use
5. Choose a place to create a “display station” for your child’s artworks and a storage area for their art pieces: Don’t forget to showcase your child’s artwork in this creative space. Children love living amidst their own artistic expressions, and it would be meaningful if their artwork could be displayed for others to admire. This will show your child that their artistic practice is meaningful, and none of their artworks will be forgotten.
6. Rest and relax: Creativity is not always about producing things. Sometimes, children need the opportunity to gather inspiration. If possible, set up some seating, pillows, or a hammock for your child to relax while looking at art books, and having some background music in this space would be wonderful.
Here are some suggestions for parents to maintain interesting activities in this art space:
There are three ways to maintain activities in this “little corner” with your child:
Forming the habit of artistic practice is crucial for nurturing your child’s passion and love for art. To establish this habit, allow your child to choose one or more fixed time slots during the week, ranging from 45 minutes to 1 hour, for them to freely explore and experiment with different materials and unleash their creativity in this “little corner”. Additionally, you can choose a fixed time slot on weekends to practice art together with your child. Sometimes, explore new materials with your child, engage in conversations, and draw together. Create a comfortable and bonding time for each other after a busy week of work and study.
Children always enjoy interacting with various materials. They are curious about what they can do with each material. And here’s an interesting fact, young children also enjoy repetition, so you can let them explore a specific art material multiple times. In the first few days of exploring a new material, let your child explore and experience its characteristics, properties, and transformations. This helps them understand the flexibility of clay, the hardness of stone, the thinness and lightness of paper, etc., and ignites their love and connection with that material. Then, provide your child with tools and equipment to play with. When your child becomes confident in using the tools skillfully, they will be able to express their ideas more easily through their artworks. For example, when your child knows how to use scissors proficiently, their cutting lines will become sharper, softer, and more fluid.
Listening to and discussing your child’s artwork is also important for you to connect with your child through art. Listen and talk to your child about the challenges they faced and how they overcame them while creating their artworks, about the warm and interesting stories behind the visible or tangible aspects of their artworks. You can try the following conversation techniques to understand more about your child’s artworks:
With the suggestions above, it is hoped that parents have gained some knowledge and can find a suitable art practice space at home for their child. These are just small suggestions from VCVAA, and VCVAA believes that parents are the ones who understand their child the most. So, feel free to create this “small art corner” with your child at home!
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