I had a wonderful conversation with Tracy Galuski, PhD. and Mary Ellen Bardsley, PhD. about their book. They shared their insights and passion associated with open-ended art and I'm excited to introduce them to you.
1. What inspired the book?
T: It started with a conversation at an early childhood conference. We had been talking about open-ended art, but not seeing it in everyday life or centers. First we wrote an article then it turned into a research project where we interviewed teachers on open-ended art, and then we wrote the book.
2. What is your number one piece of advice for child care providers?
T: Don't be afraid to let the children lead the process. So many of us have been trained to have a theme but it's okay to just let the children explore, that's where it starts to reflect the individual child.
3. What is your number one piece of advice for parents?
T: Don't be afraid to let children explore and get messy. Everyone starts out with scribbles, which turn into lines and then shapes, until finally a recognizable picture emerges. It's a natural developmental process that children go through.
ME: Safely explore, always think about safety.
T: Parents still have questions, so it's important to understand what the parents are questioning. Child care providers feel like they are being challenged, but it is necessary to take into consideration the parent's concerns and explain to them how and why open-ended art can be beneficial.
4. Give us three words to describe yourself:
ME: Patient, organized, and caring.
T: Patient, organized, and willing to learn from others.
5. Tell us about your book and the process behind writing it.
ME: We had written an article and then Redleaf approached us and we had to get them a manuscript relatively quickly. We both have different working styles so we had to have a lot of face to face meetings or Skype/phone calls. We respected each other's differences and were able to work together to edit each other's work so it blended well together to form this book.
6. What has been the most formative experience you've had in your work?
ME: I originally started out in banking but my first job relating to child care was a
teacher. I worked with families and coworkers from different backgrounds from me. This helped me to advance my career. I was able to interact with a variety of people and I had a great supervisor.
T: My first student teacher position was in
as well and I had a
n excellent supervisor that showed me how to translate the college classroom experiences into practice.
7. What defines success for you as a worker in the early education art field?
T: To see a classroom that's engaged in meaningful art.
ME: Excitement in the classroom when kids are figuring things out for themselves. And when they can figure out how things work and the celebration and excitement the teacher has.
8. What is the best way to communicate your message with families?
T: Take pictures of art in action and involve the parents in the process. Talk about open-ended art and what it means.
9. What theories, models or values guide your work when it comes to children's creativity, self-expression and meaning-making?
ME: Piaget is a good theorist that describes the stages of development. Montessori has been an influence as well. I really enjoy the authors Brittain and Lowenfield, their books are very helpful when speaking of art.
T: I agree
first edition of the
DAP text had just come out while I was in college, so I
making sense of it
throughout my career. It defines the important relationship between development and learning for children.
10. What is the most important trait of an infant-toddler caregiver?
ME: Caring, all teachers need to understand social-emotional development. We've all had that teacher that is not caring and it can really impact a child.
11. What do you want people to know about this book?
T: This book is written for all audiences, it is written so everyone can understand the importance of creative art experiences.
ME: You don't have to be an expert to start doing this work, just take out materials. A lot of providers are scared to start because they are not art teachers, but you don't have to be an art teacher to allow children the creative freedom to make what they want.
"The infant classroom is consumed by important caregiving routines, and there are many barriers that may prevent teachers from providing opportunities for art." How do you overcome those barriers?
ME: Just start trying things. Caregivers feel like the art should look like something, but that's not the case. There is pre-art which means to explore materials and have experiences. Let children become aware of textures around them. Let them figure out how things work, i.e. a crayon.
T: Even something as simple as water and a paintbrush sets a foundation for art. A lot of people ask if it's necessary to do projects with infantsbecause they are so little. The answer really depends on the developmental age of the children, and what type of experience can support their learning.
13. What do you want parents and teachers to know about open-ended art?
T: It's easy to get started, you can start wher
you feel comfortable.
ME: It provides a lot of problem solving opportunities for children.
14. How can caregivers foster creativity in children?
T: Gather a whole variety of materials, paper, glue, markers. Avoid pre-made kits.
ME: Just get scraps of things for the children to take and create.
15. As related to your book, what excites you when you see it in a classroom or child?
ME: Re-emphasizing when you see that art is part of the day and you see the teachers understand that children have different experiences and you can see the whole range. It is exciting.
T: When you see that children have done it entirety by themselves. Parents can tell when kids have done it by themselves or have had help from teachers. Let it be the children's art.
16. How do you bring outdoor play into the creative process?
ME: Exploration indoors and outdoors is very important. Nature has so many different things to explore. Textures, colors, shapes, etc. You can combine indoor materials and outdoor materials. In some areas clay can be found and that is a great material to have kids use. I've seen teachers using a fence to have the children weave or attach things too.
T: Bring art outdoors - especially if teachers are concerned about a mess. You can also bring the outdoors in - pine needles, leaves, sticks are all free art materials.
Tracy Galuski PhD. and Mary Ellen Bardsley PhD. have so much more to share, to purchase their book,
Open-Ended Art for Young Children,
Red Leaf Press.