We’ve all heard of the lovely tale of “The Little Prince.” Recently, when one of us on mat leave stumbled upon a sidewalk quote that highlighted one of the most superb lines, “only the children know what they are looking for,” we were re-inspired to read this classic.
The first two pages of the story, for those who may forget (I know I did), highlights how a child was discouraged when drawing a snake that had swallowed an elephant, as the adults could not understand the thought behind his depiction.
I showed my masterpiece to the grown-ups, and asked them whether the drawing frightened them. But they answered “Frighten? Why should anyone be frightened by a hat?” My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. But since the grown-ups were not able to understand it, I made another drawing: I drew the inside of the boa constrictor, so that the grown-ups could see it clearly. They always need to have things explained.
For us, this quote guides our every day in the early years classroom. So often do we place assumptions on what children might be thinking, or that every drawing they create has to be what we think it is, or should be.
We’ve all seen the disappointment on a child’s face when we say “what a lovely tree!” and they reply with: “that’s mommy.”
We encourage you to take a moment to observe a child as they draw, instead asking questions such as:
-Can you tell me more about what you’re drawing?
-How are you deciding on the colours to use?
-Why did you include this part of the picture?