Don’t Touch Their Work

A very stereotypical image that parents often have of Early Years activities is that of paper plate lions with perfectly placed eyes and whiskers, and crafted fish with perfectly placed fins and stripes. Paintings will often come home and the paint is no where near out of place and if you look at the rest of the class, their paintings are just as perfect.

The sad reality, however, is that it is very likely that the teacher has “fixed” your child’s work. They have moved the eye that was on the Lion’s chin and they have moved the fish’s fin that was in the middle of its head, to make the craft look “better”…

Is it better though? No.

So, why should you not touch a child’s work?

A child’s work will show you progress

At the beginning of the year, a child will place the eye, the fin, the stripes, the whiskers and the paint in the incorrect place because they do not know yet.

An adult should either be next to a child when they are completing a craft to discuss the placement of eyes and nose and mouth and so on to help them identify this new information and assist them in implementing their new found knowledge or they should observe as a child attempts to recreate an example but by no means should they touch. If a child puts something in the incorrect place, it means that they have not yet grasped this concept. It means they are still learning and that’s OK. 

At the end of the year, after practice and many attempts, a child will begin to place things in the correct place independently. This is when it becomes evident that they have grasped a new concept and an adult will be able to compare the first attempt with the last and see progress. If we “edit” their learning how we will see it?

Each piece should be unique

No two pieces in an Early Years Setting should be the same, just as no two children are the same. While crafting and recreating examples of premade pieces has it’s benefits and will help children develop in some areas, children should also be given the freedom for creativity and independence. Their work should be their own work and they should be proud of it: they should be able to identify it, knowing that they did it all on their own.

Children should be have the opportunity of “invited” play which is when resources are placed in their environment but the result is not specified. This can be done with paints, with colours, with clay, with loose parts, with recycled materials, natural materials… the list goes on and on and at the end of this Invitation to Play, the result for each child should be completely unique.

Because they are good enough

Based on our own experiences with young children, it is clear that children see and know everything that happens in their environment so when you are “editing” their piece, they see you, even when you think they can’t. Even if you do it in another room, they will know that the piece they are taking home is not the one they made. This immediately sends the message to the child who was incredibly proud of their own work, that what they made was not correct and it had to be fixed: it was not good enough…

That they were not good enough.

And this, above all other reasons, should be a reason good enough for you to not touch their work.