Children's Development

How You and Your Child Can Think Outside the “Art Box”


Children learn and develop best through exploration and hands on play. This includes their experiences with art! How can you as a parent foster individual creativity and help your preschool-aged child think outside the “art box”?  Learn the difference between product and process-focused art, and make sure to encourage open-ended play. Read on to learn how and why allowing your child to think outside the box can aid in his or her development.

Product vs. Process-Focused Art

Product-focused art experiences are ones that include instructions to follow, a sample to copy, and a finished product as a goal. These types of experiences can stifle creativity and exploration, because they are not open-ended.

Instead, approach art as open-ended play where there are no directions and there is no right or wrong way to create. This will lead to process-focused art experiences that give children choice and agency over their creations.

How Can You Encourage Process-Focused Art Experiences?

Providing your child with varied materials and mediums will help empower them to lead their own art experiences. Your child can explore art using the following:

  • Paper and a variety of different sizes and colors of pens or crayons
  • An easel and a variety of paints and brushes
  • Clay
  • Natural materials (pine cones, shells, rocks), beads and string
  • Glue
  • Glitter

The list goes on and on! Remember, no directions just let your child explore and create.

The Importance of Art in Young Children’s Learning and Development

All that fun your child is having expressing him/herself through art is also enhancing various developmental functions, including the following.

Motor Skill Development:

While making art, children develop control of large and small muscle groups. Many of the motions involved in making art, such as holding a paintbrush or scribbling with a crayon, are essential to the growth of fine motor skills in young children.

Cognitive Development

In deciding what they will make and what materials to use, children start making independent choices and decisions. By counting pieces and colors, children learn the basics of math. When children experiment with materials, they dabble in science.

Socio-Emotional Development

Creating and exploring artistic projects expands children’s ability to interact with the world around them. The process of making art builds self-esteem by giving children opportunities to express what they are thinking and feeling. Through the artistic process, children can also practice sharing and taking turns. They also learn to appreciate and be proud of their efforts and hard work, while also enjoying the work of their peers.


ECR4Kids has many art supplies, including easels, tape, painting supplies, and stamps, that can help your child explore their artistic side.
Let us know how you encourage your child to explore art and what their favorite supplies are. Have fun thinking outside the box!

Learn why process-focused art is important for your child's development. Think outside the "Art Box" together with these tips!

About the Author:

Sarina Lynn ECR4Kids Guest Blogger

Sarina Lynn is the Director of Community Engagement with Educational Enrichment Systems,Inc. (EES). EES is a non-profit that annually provides high-quality early education to over 1,100 at-risk children at 22 preschools located in Chula Vista, Linda Vista, San Marcos and Vista. Before working with EES, Sarina worked as a Staff Attorney for the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section in Washington D.C. with a specific focus on the juvenile justice system.