Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

9 Tammuz 5766 - July 5, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Kids Draw
by A.Ross, M.Ed

She has three children in kindergarten and four in elementary school. The younger ones bring home at least one drawing a day, and at the end of the week they proudly present some superb creation, product of their teacher's fertile imagination, plus another painting or drawing. The older children come home with more sophisticated drawings, beautifully written and illustrated stories, and models which they have produced. She praises each child and marvels over their contributions, but inwardly she sighs. What is she to do with all these masterpieces?

An elderly couple in England sold their large six bedroom house, before they made aliyah. Then began the formidable task of packing; what to take, what to give away or try to sell, and horrors, what to throw out. An entire attic was filled with works of art their children had brought home from the time they had started kindergarten. These people contacted their children, (some of whom were already grandparents), because they could not bear to throw the 'heirlooms' away, asking if they should send them their pictures. Each child, either regretfully or vehemently, according to their personalities, gave the parents carte blanche to dispose of everything.

The above story is an extreme example of two people, married to each other, who are both compulsive collectors. Often in a marriage, one partner rashly disposes of everything which s/he thinks is useless, whilst the other keeps every single piece of string or wrapping paper in case it might come in handy. However, drawings and creations which children bring home from school, have to be seen, to be kept, at least for a while. What do we do with them?

Firstly, let us mention what we should not do with them.

1) Never throw out a picture while the creator is watching, or if he will be able to identify it in the trashcan. If you do dispose of a child's things, do it in a sealed bag on the day the garbage collectors come around.

2) Do not tell the child that his house does not look anything like a house or that dogs do not have eight legs. He will get it right eventually.

3) Do not criticize or laugh at the drawing, even if it is really just scribbles.

If there is a spare wall in the house, perhaps in the children's room or in the breakfast room, you could stick the pictures up with masking tape (scotchtape takes the paint off the wall). Alternatively, one can buy corkboards fairly reasonably, as a display board. Incidentally, these boards, which come with special pins, are very useful as reminders for everything, including bills, invitations, items borrowed and not yet returned, doctor's appointments, to mention but a few items. If there is neither a wall nor a board available, there is always the fridge on which to hang the pictures, with the help of a few magnets.

Whatever your choice of display, a week is long enough for any particular picture to be up, and then each child can choose another work of art to put on show. It will be impossible to display everything, so you will have to have some special place for pictures, until the child has forgotten about them, and brought home a dozen more works of art.

Children's scribbles play an important part in their development, not only in their fine motor control. Encouragement too, is essential to a child's growth. However, you do not need to go overboard with praise when a child brings home a page of scribbles. Children are very astute and can tell the difference between sincerity and simulation. Furthermore, there is no need to ask a very young child what he has drawn. He does not always know. When he volunteers the information that he drew a tree, then you can tell him what an interesting tree it is, or what a nice picture he drew. Only after your child has become a confident artist (this should not take too many years with the amount of practice he has) should you venture some constructive advice.

Before I got married, I looked through all my school books before throwing them out. There was a picture which I had called 'A Roman Soldier' in my history book, with the teacher's comment, in copperplate handwriting, 'Oh, surely not!' beside it. At that time I laughed heartily, and seem to remember that the whole family had chuckled over the same comment, ten years earlier. That means the criticism did not detract from my self-esteem, or send me into a depression. But it did convince me of the fact that I was not an artist.

In those days, children were not encouraged to draw; it was a waste of time! Moreover, there was a paper shortage and we even had to write in the margins of exercise books, in order to save paper. This shortage was so entrenched into my being, that even today, I never waste paper, and give my grandchildren the back of circulars and fax sheets on which to draw, in spite of the plentiful supply of paper available.

Does it matter if child knows at an early age that s/he is not a musician or an artist? I think it does. So many gifted and creative people around today may never have developed their full potential if they had not been encouraged in their childhood.

Finally, psychologists set great store on the information to be gained from children's pictures. They are non-verbal communication with the adult world. A very simple example: If there is a large mother, much bigger than the other characters, in the center of his picture, that shows that she plays a very important part in his world. But to an expert, every little line or circle, and the use of any particular line or color, is meaningful.

If a child needs psychological help for any reason, a drawing he has made can be very revealing. In the same way that there are books about handwriting, there are fascinating books on children's drawings, written in simple language, easily understood by laymen.


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