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November 11, 2020 | Kristen Jordan

Children have been working on drawing self-portraits.
They have been very excitedly looking at themselves and examining their faces so carefully and then trying to represent what they see with lines on the paper. Their drawings are amazing!

The process of drawing self-portraits teaches children to look and observe carefully, which is something that transfers to much of learning throughout our lives. We will do a great deal of observational drawing throughout the year, but self-portraits may just be the most meaningful for the children. Self-portraits provide an opportunity for children to do an observational drawing of a subject they know so well:themselves!

Because children are wearing masks at school, they have been studying a photograph of themselves as they draw (with a bit of use of mirrors as well). Perhaps they have never quite looked at the details of their own face in quite the same way.

Some children notice freckles or the shape of their nose. They may notice how a curl drops down right on their forehead or that their mouth is not just a single line. Maybe they see how long their eyelashes are or that their eyes are not round. These can be new and exciting discoveries.

Often, even at age 3, 4 and 5, these portraits look very much like the child who has done the drawing. It can be challenging to draw everything you see when you look at your face in a photograph. In addition to paying careful attention to details, drawing a self-portrait helps children learn to work through a challenging process. It is very hard work to try to get what you see onto a piece of paper!

Children are developing stamina and persistence when they stick with drawing their self-portraits. Drawing something so carefully also helps to develop finger strength and fine motor control. Drawing with a Flair pen allows children to make precise marks on the page. Trying to make something accurate and beautiful contributes further to developing control and hand strength. When drawing self-portraits, children are also developing the idea of knowing that we can grow and get better at things when we work at them.

One of the things that often happens in the Trees Class is that we have children attempt more than one draft of something, whether it is acting out a story more than once, attempting a puzzle over and over, rebuilding a block structure if it falls over, or drawing something several times. When children draft, they gain an understanding that they can learn from their mistakes, they see that practice helps them to get better at something, and children begin to understand that learning is a process. When children do a second draft of a self portrait, they may notice or include details that they did not in their first draft.

The children’s self-portraits are an indication of so much hard work! They are amazing!

Kristen Jordan

Teacher, Rivers Class

Kristen Jordan began helping at Mustard Seed School in 2006, after her daughter had been a student in the preschool. She substituted for many years in all grades; in 2011, she returned to the classroom and has been a teacher in The Nest ever since.

Prior to the birth of her daughter Clara, in 2002, Ms. Jordan worked in Brooklyn as a first grade teacher with the New York City Public Schools. During this time, her school collaborated with the Brooklyn Museum, and this work helped Ms. Jordan develop a real interest in the parallels between the process of making art and the process of writing in the classroom. She thoroughly enjoys teaching both art and literacy to preschoolers.

Ms Jordan’s background includes work with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. While at Teachers College, she trained with esteemed educator and author Lucy Calkins. Early in her teaching career, Ms. Jordan did not think that she wanted to teach very young children but her view has changed! She now really enjoys and takes great interest in young children and their development.

Ms. Jordan enjoys reading, working out, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her daughter and family. Although she has lived on the East Coast for a very long time, as a native of Oregon, she really loves the mountains!

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