Upon Sonja Böhlander & Esin Tanrısever and Their Book “Free Art Learning With Kids”

Sonja & Esin. Sonja’s art education experience has 58 years background. Couple has been working together for 20 years. They give consultance to schools, run workshops either with students, educators or parents & kids. They also join and run national and international workshops. At this stage of their journey, they also wrote a book together; “Free Art Learning With Kids”

Upon Our Book

Now we want to share our experiences with the world and have published an E-book (Amazon and iBooks [which is mainly distributed by Smashwords]) entitled “Free Art Learning With Kids”

This book is an introduction to our understanding of art educational philosophy for young ones. In it, we have sporadically pondered upon some topics that we believe may concern adults who particularly are in relation to children at early stages between 2 till 7 years of age. (Views upon ourselves… Children… The World and the like.) Let’s consider the scientifically proven fact that as much as 90% of children’s personalities get completed at the age of 6!.. Very much can, according to our understanding, should be done in order to support process of developing self confidence and individual growth in children while their brains are most receptive

The target audience is parents, close relatives/ones to preschool kids or educators/students who want to make contribution with art education. It is planned to get followed by a series of handbooks which will come to form a “library” containing instructive guidelines upon how we, as adults, can support our children by providing them means to expand their personal creative growths. You will find detailed descriptions on how various artistic media techniques can get successfully realized together with them

Our planned “Free Art Learning With Kids Library” Project program introduces a rich variety of artistical techniques with instructions on how to apply them adapted to “young artists”. Following books will be on branches. (Just with a brainstorm came out over 20 headlines, right now we are in the middle of 2nd book)

What are our aims?

As known, in world market there is to be found a wealth of attractive looking publications on artistic activities for children. Many of these are doubtlessly quite beneficial and suitable, in serving as valuable sources of inspiration, they promote progressive developments of children’s minds

On the other hand, marketed are also huge amounts of publications designed for use of stencils. These may be more or less qualified from aesthetical or pedagogical point of view. Children are expected to copy or fill in blanks of them with color… Often even with descriptions on which colors are going to be used so that something will “look right”for somebody. By doing these kind of exercises, child feels him or herself secure because what is asked from him or her is very clear. Moreover, as he or she tries to copy things or works on certain shapes, the teacher of parent will have a chance to observe their motor skills, which is a very useful information, because in case there is a problem, the sooner it is diagnosed, the better

The above mentioned studies are cute looking, desired and seem so innocent. All around the world, children are seated by a table in their classrooms, and very concentratedly they work on drawing a cow, a dog or whatever they are supposed to draw; in an expected form… They do this quietly for hours. In the end, the ones who resemble the originals most, which means the “winners” will be awarded and unfortunately there will also be “losers” and that makes our heart ache so badly…

Students, teachers and schools usually compete with each other

“How many of us are aware about that this is can be regarded as a kind of psychological trap?” Sonja Böhlander Tanrisever

Now, we know that children naturally need approval and love. Accordingly, in order to please their elders, they will try to suit expectations. But they also need believing own inner resources, insight into what they are capable of performing on their own. As long as they have chances to freely express themselves the ways they feel to be true coming from inside, they will feel successful and gain self confidence

In conclusion, it is for sure that there can be many useful sides and angles that evolve the children when working with stencils but if we are mentioning art sessions, there also must be free sessions where the child can express him or herself freely. Because in other type of exercises, the child when finishes copying the stencil teacher has given, as earlier mentioned, he or she will be rewarded according to the level his or her art work resembles the original. It should be kept in mind that the “ideal” described in fact is in general correponce to adult’s understanding and taste of art work. In that case, only the ones who had managed to copy the most will be rewarded. The ones which don’t resemble much will at least be ignored, may not be rewarded or child’s work will directly be anounced as a “failure” and his or her self confidence will have a total damage

Here you can find a Huffington Post article with the headline “How Schools Are Killing Creativity” https://www.huffingtonpost.com/line-dalile/a-dictator-racing-to-nowh_b_1409138.html

In A Free Art Learning Atmosphere

In the contrary, in a free art learning atmosphere, the child will have more chances to explore and naturally gain self confidence on the way


“Try, try once more, like or don’t like, now try something else. And on the way of this road, discover your talents, and also the techniques or materials that you like or or dislike. Because at the end of this road, you don’t need to be an artist, just enjoy experiencing!”

Later on we will share more detailed views and experiences upon this but let us write our opinion about this subject in just one sentence; making comments how the child’s art work is according to us and labelling it as “beautiful” or “not nice” is also very risky and we should be very careful about that. If it is a must and we need to make a comment (for instance the child might have especially asked for that from us) we can make either positive or “neutral but encouraging” comments. We will discuss this thoroughly in the following articles

Art Learning As A New Kind of Concept

After having finished our first book, we experienced shortage in terms of choosing equivalent conceptual definition of the art pedagogical image in our minds. And none of the terms mainly used in the field did really seem to suite our aims. This confusion went on until a friend (being a noteworthy designer) Mr. Faruk Malhan kindly contributed with the bright idea of introducing the term of “Art Learning” instead of “training”, “teaching”, etc. Then we considered that this actually should be exactly what these kind of contexts are all about in early years. Children are new in the world and so they keep learning in multifolded manners by using all their senses. Learning life from all sources embodied within adventurous and enrichening domains of artistical forms of expression will act as one of the major resort spheres

Accordingly with our own projects when children, through the magic power of art get a chance to freely discover and explore their creative inner resources by means of self expression, we believe in a broad sense, that making art has the potential of fostering growth of what is individual in each child (emotion, thought and understanding). At the same time, the natural process of psychic and physical maturing of the child will come to be integrated with the surrounding world, so that there will be harmony and balance in their interaction

Consequently in our understanding: during early ages, art learning must be FREELY practised!.. Children’s creativity should definitely not be restricted

Here please find an article from The Guardian with a headline: “Why pushing creativity out of classrooms will stop children succeeding in the 21st century”: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/nov/17/why-pushing-creativity-out-of-classrooms-will-stop-children-succeeding-in-the-21st-century

Brief Outlines Of Our “Free Art Learning With Kids Handbook Library” Project

In order to realize this project, we have organized a work plan designed for preschool age groups of 2-3, 4-5 and 6-7 years of age. New concepts and skills of each grade level build upon and incorporate previous learned behaviors

This plan will offer the children opportunities to engage in elaborous studies of elementary art concepts and elements. Languages of f.i. line, texture, color, form, light will be explored through creative experimentations. We seek to encourage children for gradually experiencing things that are new to them and they must be left to have an angle scope, feel free to examine and make tests… If they fail, then try again and again if necessary. They will have to interprete their experiences in manners which feel right to themselves, without having to worry about whether others will approve or not… For this purpose, artistic means of expression, materials used during art sessions will be highly varying. This will give them opportunities to fully use their senses and experience thrills of perceptional sensations. If children live in a city, this is even more important.

Nature should enter their lives

Among materials there will be: sand, clay, plaster, dough, wood, fur, rope, strings, metal, glass, shells, beads, bark, twigs, feathers, cones, seeds, lead, charcoal, paints of many kinds. Gradually experiencing explorations of diverse materials at early ages, will make the children familiar with basic concepts on nature of things

Planned program of “Free Art Learning With Kids Handbook Library” Project covers subjects like drawing, print making, painting, collage, picture making in mixed media, textiles, mozaic, marbling and 2 or 3 dimensional works like masks, reliefs, puppet making and sculpture. Besides this, art making by use of manipulations with recycled elements (in order to arise awareness about explotations of nature) and some basic science experiments are also integrated in the schedules

For perceptions to deeply reach and settle in minds during processes of learning, children need to focus on languages which are real far beyond words. Naturally verbal languages are of undisputable importance as magical intermediaries of communication, but as we know, besides this there are also many other languages as well (which often may be neglected) “A child has a 100 languages but gets deprieved of 99” Loris Malaguzzi famous Italian poet and educator. Words can not, for instance, be touched upon or caressed in physical sense. They can not be experienced in the way hands, eyes and thought interact while registering properties in environment. They can not be real and warm in the way of learning by doing, learning by feeling, touching, seeing, smelling! When structures of matter get familiar, they turn into a formalistic base for making interpretations in personal and engaged manner

In all, together with love, care and constructive dialogues between different generations, these are thought to be dynamics nurturing power of freedom in self expression during early childhood

Just To Give An Example

Perhaps you are lucky to have an available space and desirable sources to work with, but in case your possibilites are limited, what can be done with what’s in hand? Say you don’t have sources to acquire art materials since already being striving to cover up daily expenses, you’ll get amazed to see what in fact you can do and right today or tomorrow!

A drawer in the kitchen or your wardrobe, or even a carboard box that you can hide under the bed can be your “art studio”!

Perhaps around there may be natural materials like pine cones, sea shells, barks, sand/mud? Also industrial “wastes” are mostly free of charge. In the eyes of a child, what we see as a waste/scrap material is a VALUE!.. A source or tool to create!…

Lots of ideas…

First of all, instead of regarding children as little copies of adults, it will be wiser to approach them as fascinating cognitive beings that have mysteries and an own view upon the world

We have a lot to say on art education with kids! 🙂

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