Carol Seefeldt writes:
“For those endorsing cognitive theories, children’s art is serious work, for art ‘is a language – a form of cognitive expression’.” (p.39)
“As children create art, they must organize their thoughts and actions into patterns and symbols. They reason, invent, create, and solve problems. For example, children must decide how to fit two pieces of wood together, which colors to use to express an idea, or how to make a piece of paper stand to represent the way the wind felt on their face. In the process, children are forced to develop perceptual sensitivity to their world, perceiving likenesses, differences, shapes, sizes, textures, and colors.” (p.40)
“Believing that art is an expression of a feeling, experience, idea, or thought, teachers know that it cannot be produced without first feeling, thinking, or experiencing. What can a child draw if she has little to think about, few ideas, dreams, feelings, or experiences to express?” (p.40)
“Without a store of experiences to think or feel something about, children draw the stereotypical ‘house, tree, flower’ picture. Without continual, meaningful experiences, children’s store of ideas, feelings, and imagination are readily depleted.
True, children experience all of the time. they walk in the rain, feel the soft fur on a rabbit, or observe people at work. Yet for an experience to be meaningful, children must ‘act upon it, do something with it’ (Dewey 1994, 139).” (p.40)
“Respect for children and their art also means giving them time to grow and explore and experiment with materials. Two and 3-year-olds, barely out of the sensorimotor stage of development, are respected for being 2 or 3. In Reggio Emilia, as in good early childhood programs in America, toddlers are expected to explore materials; to enjoy feeling, tasting, and playing with crayons; to scribble and mess around, finding out how paint feels on their hands and faces or what they can do with soft clay. Children are not hurried or pressured into representing their ideas or feelings though art nor to be interested in the product, much less produce one.” (p.42)
Ref: (emphases in blue bold mine) Carol Seefeldt (1995) Art – A Serious Work. Young Children March 50(3); pp.39-45