Luckily the children I teach have it very differently. They start their art education very young. In fact research shows that preschoolers are the ready foundation for art appreciation and that it should start then. Courses such as Art Appreciation 101 for Young Children are flourishing and they teach that learning about art helps children improve their ability to observe things around them. Using paintings, sculptures and pieces of architecture as prompts for thinking routines such as See Think Wonder help children to express creative ideas, communicate and develop language skills, use problem solving and reasoning skills.
If you don't use the Harvard Thinking routines it is as simple as asking children What do you see? What do you think of when you see this piece of art? How does it make you feel? What part of the story is this painting? Do you like it?
There are a myriad of ways to celebrate art that involves appreciation of it.
1. Visit a gallery or exhibition. I made a point of visiting my local gallery today. Last week I went to an exhibition put on by local printmakers.
2. Share picture books, especially those that feature the works of artists eg. Willy's Pictures by Anthony Browne, Dan's Angel by Alexander Sturgis and Lauren Child or any of the Anholt's artists series by Laurence Anholt.
3. Look at books designed specifically for children which have large reproductions of famous paintings like those by Lucy Micklethwait. Her I Spy series also makes the art appreciation fun. Gillian Wolfe has a series that all have Look! in the title and similarly Gladys Blizzard has a series Come Look With Me.
4. Look at books that go with a gallery and do things to draw you into a close study of their paintings. The Queensland Art Gallery does this in 21st Century Art for Kids. Roy and Matilda: the Gallery Mice books by Susan Venn do this for the NSW Art Gallery, the Victorian Gallery and the Queensland Gallery. The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra has books it has published for themselves that introduce very young children to art that is in their gallery. Further afield the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is an expert at this.
5. If you have never experienced a book published by Prestel for children you must. You will not be disappointed.