Painting in the Montessori classroom is a fun, yet serious experience. To the Montessori teacher, painting for self-expression is the secondary goal. The first goal of painting is practical in nature. For the 3 to 6 year old child, painting is a way to strengthen muscles and refine motor skills. It improves concentration and coordination. The process of setting up and cleaning up is also a way to promote independence. Like all works in a Montessori classroom, painting is broken down into a series of procedures, as well as levels.
Easel Painting is an engaging and attractive gross motor activity. Children often start by making lines or swirls, some fill every inch of the paper. The big cross body movements that can be done while painting on a large easel engage both hemispheres of the brain.
For children it’s always about the process, not the product. After the painting is hung up to dry, the child often forgets about it, because that’s when they start the detailed work of cleaning up. The process of setting up the clean up work, washing the easel, going on a hunt for all the drips of paint, and then pouring out, rinsing the bowl, and cleaning the basin.
The bulk of the benefit for the child comes in the clean-up process. Some children clean the easel with the same motions used for scrubbing a table. Some do it as a science experiment, watching how the water dries on the easel and writing on the dry easel with a wet sponge. You often see the true concentration happening during clean up.