The walls of our school are covered in the creative work of our preschool artists. As educators we call the colorful displays “documentation.” It’s a fancy word with a powerful purpose. Documentation makes learning visible.
Likewise, hanging your children’s masterpieces in your home conveys an equally strong message. Whether on your refrigerator, in your office, around your home or even in your cars it conveys your pride and demonstrates that you think their work is worthy of display. With the charm and hilarity that often accompanies children’s art, displaying the art tells your children that you take their ideas and work seriously, that their efforts, intentions and ideas are valued. Showing value for their efforts boosts self-esteem and builds confidence.
In addition, on our walls we include photos of the learning process itself. At home amidst the various art pieces you can nestle photographs of the children engaged in the project work, and comments and transcripts of their conversations and descriptions of their efforts. The documents highlight how your children planned, carried out, and completed their work. Children begin to understand that learning is purposeful and empowering.
Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio education philosophy, points out, through documentation children “become even more curious, interested, and confident as they contemplate the meaning of what they have achieved.”
By preparing and displaying evidence of the children’s learning experiences, the children re-visit their experiences and work which may bring new perspectives and more indepth thinking, questioning and dialogue.
Documentation of children’s projects, ideas, thoughts and feelings also stimulate memories, while continuously growing an interest in art and creativity.
As time passes, comparing your children’s growth in their art also builds great confidence and self-esteem as they witness their own changes.
The simple act of presenting your child’s artwork is a big deal with lifelong benefits. Your child will grow up with a passion for art and fond memories of having his or her art presented.
Sheila Dalva-Hornback is the Director of the Early Childhood Learning Center, Aronoff Preschool at the Merage JCC, and is a mother of three in her own blended family. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.