Outside Sebastian’s classroom is a bulletin board with a mind map of the goals for each term. Each one is updated periodically with curriculum goals, activities, etc. There are also a few photos of the children learning through play and inquiry on the board beneath the mind map. When I arrive early I like to check out the latest things going on in class, partially from my previous life as a teacher but mostly so I can see what they are doing since Sebastian can’t tell me. One day a couple months ago I noticed a photo of Sebastian in his stander. I was so proud of Sebastian for standing so tall and holding his head up so well. I asked his teacher if he was able to move his hands in the whipped cream himself, she said he had to work pretty hard to hold himself up and she had helped him move his hands around, but that he really enjoyed the activity.
A few weeks later I came in to pick him up and one of the teachers brought over a painting that he had done, again while in his stander. They were so proud of him, they put his name on it and hung it on the wall. Although he had needed help in painting the picture, he had chosen the colors of paint he wanted to use through eye gaze, reaching and smiles. He wanted to do red first and then blue. Again, I was so proud of him and looked forward to more paintings.
Several weeks went by and I noticed some of the artwork the other kids were doing. I also knew Sebastian was working in his stander. Outside his classroom is a box with large red folders with each child’s name on it. In these folders teachers put art work to be picked up and taken home. I would glance at the box often with some of the folders overflowing with artwork. Whenever I checked Sebastian’s it was empty. So I rarely checked it. At his school they don’t do group art projects. They put the materials on a table and the kids that wish to create, can. I’m happy with that. I even prefer that approach. But I also knew that Sebastian was working in his stander and wondered whether he had been painting too.
This morning as I walked by the box after dropping him off on the playground, I paused. His folder is in the back of the group and so I reached down and came up empty. Then I noticed I had checked the wrong folder. In front of it was Sebastian’s with two projects poking out. My heart burst with pride and happiness as I picked up his very first independent art projects. Upon close examination I can guess that they are made with a sugar, and colorful foam that has dried on both the paper and small paper plate.
In the first one you can see that he had his hand open and ran his fingers down the paper, which is an accomplishment because he generally paints with his hands closed. I imagine him opening his fingers and feeling the different textures and seeing the bright colors and moving his hand through them across the paper. There are some finger prints in the second one too where I imagine his teacher helped him open his hand but maybe he wasn’t keen to keep it open.
Art work is something I introduced to Sebastian from a young age, trying to get him to move a marker across the paper. Or just help him choose colors and put my hand on his to move the marker. He always enjoyed grabbing onto the markers and even went through a stage of trying to eat them which resulted in a very colorful face. Sometimes we paint with him, but it’s not his favorite thing to do, it takes a lot of effort. When he is at school he can’t walk up to tables and choose what he wants to do but I know the teachers take him to different areas and set him up in the one of his choice. I also know that he’s more interested in his little girlfriends than the activity they are doing. So finding not one, but two, pieces of artwork in his take home folder was not something I expected. And it leaves me feeling oh so very happy.