Your Child’s Bedroom: A Place to Appreciate and Grow
Decorating your child’s room is a most fun activity. But how do you create a space that is soothing enough to sleep and stimulating enough to help your child learn? And how do you give them a space that can grow with them as they grow up? The answer lies in a simple thing called art.
Bring Art Into A Child’s Space
Artwork in a child’s bedroom has many benefits. First, if it is a high-quality work of art then tossing it aside as their age advances is often not an issue at all. In fact, when artwork is hung in a child’s room (as well as throughout a home) children learn early that certain things have value and meaning and although technology is easily outdated and disposed of, artwork is something that can grow in value.
Teachers have often touted the importance of art for a child’s developing brain because it is a critical tool for developing creativity. Today, many schools are placing the focus back on art because they realize that is also a tool for teaching children how to observe and communicate more effectively.
In many school districts around the country, teachers are using artwork to inspire some of their students to observe closely, think critically, and discuss respectfully the elements of their daily classroom learning. These are skills that have far reaching potential and use beyond just classroom learning.
By looking at art together children can learn how to be present, observe, and translate their thoughts into language; and then, listen and respond to multiple perspectives. The key is exposing them to art and then allowing time to discuss and observe what is seen in that artwork.
This type of “visual thinking’ is not a new concept but studies have shown that students who are exposed to visual images in art, “exhibited stronger growth in math and reading, and showed better social-emotional growth than students in classes that did not.” (edsource)
What is going on in this picture?
What do you see that makes you say that?
What more can we find?
Children in a digital world are preoccupied with dings and flashes of light, but to give them moments where they must stop and observe closely something that is visual but not animated, is a powerful tool. While most people are unable to keep their eyes off of their smart phones, those of us who are able to turn the digital off and be present during important life moments can usually find greater happiness and success then those who cannot.
Bringing It Home
Bringing artwork into a child’s bedroom should be enjoyable. Start with artwork that has meaning. A local or cherished artist, visual images that remind you of places that evoke memory, and of course, taking cherished pieces of art from grandparents or even your own collection, and placing them inside a child’s room gives their space greater meaning.
Once on the wall really look at the image and begin asking questions about what is being seen. The process together is part of the learning. Don’t just react to it, ask how viewing that image makes them feel.
How does it make you feel?
Then listen. Allow your child to speak so that they understand that their interpretation is equally important to yours. The emotions and insights shared can and will be different. This is part of the beauty and importance of listening fully and being present when viewing art together. There are not right or wrong answers when it comes to art. Learning is not just about flooding our lives with data and words. Real learning comes from being able to take a concept and really explore it beyond just a few minutes of entertainment. Bringing the process of art into your home has real benefits so give the process time to grow and develop. Being uncomfortable is part of the observation too!
Art is a language that speaks to a deeper part of our brains.
We feel the brush strokes, we hear sounds and imagine stories in our head. Before any words are spoken, art fills us with questions. So when you sit with your child and really look at the artwork on their wall you are giving meaning to something that normally would not have any importance. But by listening and asking children what they see and feel about the artwork in their rooms you are giving them permission and guidance to begin to do this process on their own.
What do you think the artist was thinking when they painted this?
What do think they were trying to tell us?
There is no wrong answer, only perspective.
Let your children speak freely. Let them explore new ideas without fear of being interrupted or guided. By letting them speak freely you are teaching them that what they notice, what they see, is important and has meaning.
Say things like: “I’m noticing” or “I want to build on what you said” so that they begin to embrace the idea of different opinions. Then go back to that piece of art the next night and begin the process again. Just like their routine bedtime story, children begin to see that this silent, very present observational moment can be stimulating and creative.
“What do you see in this picture tonight?”
When trying to stimulate observations from children you must present them with quality artwork or it will not have the depth needed to hold attention. Standing in front of a print that is taken from a quality art original will help to move discussions of shapes and colors into the more subtle differences of light, shade, and then perspective.
With close observations of artwork, a child begins to see that visual observations are the beginning of real communication. Thinking deeply becomes important. Asking questions, even if they do not have right or wrong answers, becomes important. Observing closely, silently, and patiently becomes important. Even the process of creating stories that are fluid and personal begin to have importance.
Not Your Child
Have you ever been in a museum and seen small children walking quietly with their parents? Have you wondered how those children stayed occupied? Visiting museums and observing art is something we teach children. It is a process of allowing children to stop and observe things without interruption. Young children don’t stop and say, “I don’t get it” when looking at art. That is what adults do. Children are absorbent and without judgment when they are young. By exposing them to the gifts of art early and often you create the foundation for learning.
The hardest part for many parents is that they may not have been exposed to art like prior generations. So the process may feel awkward at first. Children have a deeper perception for this non-verbal learning, while parents may wish to use the opportunity to “teach” rather then listen and learn together. So take your time and start the process with artwork in your own home.
When you leave the technology at the door and embrace moments of observation and discussion together, children begin to see that they can separate themselves from the ever-present digital world. And by helping them to develop their natural abilities to question, observe, and creatively think, you are giving them an important advantage over those who sit clicking and swiping a screen rather then learning something together.
Start by pulling out all the artwork stored in the basement from your parents. Or go to a local gallery and just begin the process of observing on your own. Be gentle to yourself as you explore your own feelings about what you are looking at.
How does it make you feel?
Why do you think it makes you feel this way?
Your own observation process is a great place to start.
Don’t Throw the Baby Out With The Bathwater
Sometimes we discard artwork because the frame surrounding it has a historical context. Large, heavy wooden frames may remind you of your parents, or are reminiscent of historical places and museums that feel musty and outdated. Art is usually something that was created without a particular frame in mind, so consider taking a piece of art and updating the frame around it. A child’s room is happiest when in pastel tones, so perhaps removing the gilded wood frame and replacing it with a lighter weight material that is more reflective of the rooms décor, you may just observe a new feeling for the artwork that you didn’t have before.
Art is a stationary object in a very rapid and fluid world. Taking the time to stop and observe what that art has to offer you and your family could bring benefits beyond the classroom lessons cited above. There is a reason that art is cherished and valued century after century. Start with one piece of quality art in your home and see if there is a shift in the energy once you sit down with your children to observe it together. It takes time and persistence. Not only will your home feel more beautiful but you and your family will find that the moments you share learning together are the foundations for years of happiness ahead. Enjoy!
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Article written by Maria Bereket.