Letting children explore materials, embed skills and be creative

Process Art and the Atelier

Here at Meadowlane we believe that children need plenty of opportunities to express themselves in as many ways as possible.

Process art is a great way of letting children explore materials, embed skills and be creative, both in their thinking as well as in the things they create. It’s the process that is valuable and not a preconceived product or outcome.

Art is an experience not an object.

Robert Motherwell

Children need time and space to get familiar with materials and to figure out how to manipulate them to get a desired (by them!) outcome. They will only learn that, and become confident in their abilities, if they are allowed to make choices. Particularly choices of how and what to do and when they are finished.

Children don’t work with an end product in mind. They explore and experiment, changing what they do and think about the process along the way. But importantly they are practising skills, growing in confidence and practicing creative thinking along the way. The task for the educator is to facilitate this process and enable the child continue their creative explorations.

We have an Atelier in the barn which is a space dedicated to creativity in all its forms. Small groups of children (up to 6) come to work in the atelier on various ‘projects’ that are inspired by the inquiries in their rooms or to support the learning of skills and building of knowledge.

For example working on a large collaborative piece of process-art, woodworking (first to build basic skills, then on little projects of their own ‘design’), playing with clay and experimenting with various materials and ideas.

The Atelier is there to support children’s learning and to help other educators to make the most of their inquiries. Exploring ideas from different perspectives deepens the children’s understanding and opens up new questions. This in turn encourages the children’s curiosity and helps them to become more confident.

‘In Reggio the process of learning involves making connections and relationships between feelings, ideas, words and actions.’

Debbie LeeKeenan and John Nimmo