“I’m done”

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“I’m done.” This is an interesting thing that happens – we start work on a project and within a very short time a kid will announce that he is done. I say “a kid” but mostly it is “the kid”. Every group has a child who is always finished before anybody else. And with one kid, I suppose, it’s not much of an issue, but it does tend to unleash a bit of an avalanche of I’mdones coming one after the other. I’m sure I could read about this (maybe I will) but I’ve just been pondering it today. One the one hand I like to respect that each child is an individual and could easily just be done faster, or not be interested in what we’re doing, or something like that. And in the interest of keeping the classroom running smoothly I often have an area set up for children after the activity. (“You can go work with blocks on the carpet until we are ready to go on to the next thing.”) But I also want to convey that spending time on something is valid. Sometimes we work on things, sometimes we think about it a bit longer, and sometimes (most times!) it isn’t “best” to be done in record time. In practice my approach is really to encourage this. Fairly early one I identify the kid that is always done and for them I generally say ” We are going to be working with clay for a while so you can either work some more or you can sit with us and watch your friends.” I then I follow it up with some comment or idea about their work. Mostly this works. Just makes me wonder – is the “I’m done” thing I natural kid thing, or does it have something to do with their environment.  We often have this idea that children have shorter attention spans, but maybe part of it has to do with not expect them, or giving them the opportunity to spend time on things?

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2 Comments

Filed under art classes/workshops, art with children

2 responses to ““I’m done”

  1. Clare

    I know a little girl whose “I’m done” is merely the prelude to her lengthy verbal description of what she has created (despite the fact that it is very much visible to all listeners) and an elaborate and specific narrative about her piece. In this case, I suspect the “I’m done” arrives precipitously because the idea of telling others about the unfinished, barely existent entity is so appealing that she can’t put it off. With clay, we always have the appealing option of “squooshing” projects, so it tends to be fairly “process based” anyhow!

    • Indeed, process based. I was also going to mention the opposite issue of the times you wish they were done – so that you could save some really good work before their “creative decisions” necessitate “squooshing” or painting over until everything is brown. But….that’s kind of cheating. 😉 Short of asking if they’d like another piece of paper, or clay, you just have to go with the flow.

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