Your home has gone quiet, almost suspiciously so. You turn around to see your child immersed in creation.
⭐ Building a gravity-defying tower.
⭐ Painting an abstract picture of a flower.
⭐ Meticulously layering beads onto a piece of yarn.
The look on their face is one of concentration:
🤨 Their brow is furrowed.
🤔 Their head tilts to the side as they think.
😕 Their lips are pursed or their tongue is poking out just a bit.
🧐 The occasional “hmmm” can be heard.
Clearly, they’re engaged, focused, determined, and motivated.
But would you describe this moment of intense concentration as playing or working?
Is there a difference between the two in this instance?
Where do you draw the line between work and play?
When you see your child hard at play/work here are some things you can do:
⚡️ Give them room to create, explore, focus.
⚡️ Don’t worry if they’re not smiling.
⚡️ Try not to interrupt them for discussion (or a smiling photo).
⚡️ ⚡️ Later, when they’re done play/working, ask them to tell you about their experience, or the ideas they were exploring. They may have something to say, they may not.
Two more perspectives:
On Instagram, My friend, @mugshots shared a meaningful insight from her perspective as a museum educator:
“At the Museum we have so many photos of kids in classes in the studio and unless we ask them to stop and look up at the camera and flash a smile, their faces are pretty much always in major concentration mode. We often get pushback from the Marketing folks, don’t you have any pics of them smiling while they work? And I say, ‘hmmm.. and maybe whistling too? No. This is what you want. This is the real story of art education.’”
And artist Jennifer Wilkin Penick added a third word, EFFORT, to the equation:
“The creative process can be a mix of creating and problem-solving. While both are (should be) ENJOYABLE, they also involve … maybe not work precisely, but EFFORT.”