The end product is of little importance in the early years
This is a debate which is rising in early years; is it the about the process of the product? Early years settings enjoy arts, crafts and getting creative as there are many benefits to this play based approach however are too many practitioners loosing site of what’s important and focusing too heavily on the end product instead of all the benefits the children gain through the process? This can be seen particularly in adult lead sessions where practitioners have an end product in mind and this often restricts the exploration, active learning and creative and critical thinking for the children. Some of this has briefly been explored in an article published by early years careers about hand and foot print art.
Process vs Product
The process involved in creative activities holds many benefits for children and allow them to engage in their characteristics of effective learning as well as meet various stages of development in the EYFS (Department for education, 2012). They can be used to support next steps, help children to make sense of the world around them and supports and extends current knowledge and understanding around many topics and themes. For example let us focus on the theme or topic of winter. A practitioner may have planned to create snowmen pictures with the child which is a fun and exciting activity however the way this activity is delivered is important to ensuring the children get the most out of it. It is important to fully allow the child to explore the textures and processes involved in creating a lovely snowman craft and if the end picture doesn’t look like a snowman particularly that doesn’t matter as long as the child is proud of their achievement and feels a sense of accomplishment at what they have created. In this sense the end product is important in building esteem and a confident learning however the end product of the perfect snowman has very little importance other than for practitioner and parent satisfaction.
• Ditch templates – Children should be able to create their own version of images such as the snowman in the above scenario. Getting children to use templates creates restrictions, expectations and the adult’s ideology of the perfect image. Allow the child’s imagination and abilities dictate how their snowman should look.
• Don’t use stencils – Stencils heavily restrict the movements and marks that can be created by children. At the end of the activity they may have drawn the perfect circle but that doesn’t allow for the child to really try drawing and mark making independently to learn how movements and motions effect the marks that are made. Read more about the impact of stencils here
• Create lots of collage pictures – Collage pictures allow children to explore a variety of media and to creatively think and actively learn as they make their own decisions about what media they use, how they use it and where they place it.
• Talk about the process – Engage sensitively during the activity to extend learning wherever possible, talk about the effects of the movements, colours, textures, question why certain choices are being made.
• Offer photo’s or images to copy – Provide images that the children can use for inspiration and try to copy so that the end product they create is truly their own
• Parents will enjoy any picture that is created by their child and it does not need to be perfect to the adult as long as it is perfect to the child and a true reflection of the skills they hold, so do not feel you have to create perfect pictures for the parents sake.