Start Somewhere

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Stop Waiting for Perfect

Blogging is one (but certainly not the only) area of my life that I put off getting started because I want to be sure I do it “just right.” The scrapbook stalled several years ago… the recipe binder needing organizing… the child’s closet needing cleaning… the craft… the repair… the garden… you get the picture. Fear of mistakes is a paralyzing feeling for adults and children alike, but the truth is, there are few situations that can’t be overcome by just getting started. Errors are rarely earthshattering and can often be creatively converted to masterpieces, but they’re hard on the ego.
A Gentle Push
Sometimes what we need is someone we trust to give us a gentle push (or a swift kick) to get us going. Knowing someone believes in you helps when you’re having trouble believing in yourself. Last week I was helping in B’s kindergarten class. The classroom next door had an incubator of chicken eggs just hatching and I got to take over a few students at a time to see the chicks. When they returned to the classroom, the teacher asked them to draw what they saw. They draw people and animals and objects every day on their reading papers, but for some reason, drawing the chicks they just saw was mighty intimidating. I walked between the tables to choruses of “I don’t know how to draw a chick!” and “Can you help me?” While my first instinct was to respond with, “Just try,” I knew that wasn’t going to get them past the artistic roadblock of trying to accurately capture a newborn chick in pencil and crayon. So I appealed to their sense of humor and reminded them that they did possess some expertise:
“Well, let’s see – chicks have a body and a head, and six legs, right?” [grumpy “no”s]“Oh no? Well I know they have long tails.” [annoyed “no”s with a few giggles]“And they also have big sharp teeth I think.” [exasperated “no”s and eye rolling]
B painting
Not baby chick day art, but art,
Once they had to tell me what the chicks looked like (wings, beaks, feet, eyes) drawing them wasn’t such an enormous task. Were the drawings perfect portrayals of hours-old chicks? Not really. But they were sure adorable.

Start Simple
In Peter Reynolds’ The Dot, young Vashti experiences the same art paralysis. She doesn’t know how to begin. Her encouraging teacher advises her to make any mark on the paper. In a characteristically immature move typical of an uncertain artist of any age, she jabs angrily at the paper. Rather than responding with frustration, the teacher directs her to sign her mark and proceeds to frame and display it. Inspired by her teacher’s demonstrative show of confidence, Vashti creates a whole gallery of very creative dots that become part of a school show. The teacher’s lesson is not lost on Vashti – she repeats it to a peer who is awestruck at the show. This book is a lovely story to share with your own child when he or she is feeling fearful of a new undertaking, to read for yourself when you’re stuck before you’ve started, or to give as a gift to a special teacher or inspiring person in your life. We’ll be sharing it with B’s kindergarten teacher for Teacher Appreciation Week. 

Appropriate for preschoolers, primary grades, everyone!

By the way - Teacher Appreciation Week happens to coincide with Children's Book Week this year - hoping to share lots more about the books we're enjoying as the week goes on, but if I don't get the posts up, it's because I'm "perfecting" teacher appreciation gifts - check out the LittleSproutBooks Facebook Page.

Linking up with a massive Children's Book Week Linky - hosted by Reading Confetti, among others (Mom to 2 Posh Lil DivasSmiling Like SunshineCarrots Are OrangeTeach Preschool, and Toddler Approved)



Kirsten Larson May 9, 2012 at 12:21 PM  

And I love "The Dot" too. I think it's especially appropriate for boys who seem to think more often than girls that they can't draw.

JDaniel4's Mom May 19, 2012 at 5:18 AM  

I will have to look for this for my guy.

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