The Issue around Aprons

Messy Little Learners

Aprons: the solution to a mess free creative session, right? But what if you think about the real objective of creativity. Is staying clean really the main priority when it comes to nursery or are we as adults simply putting unrealistic expectations on our children? The very act of making art is to experiment hands on with materials and ideas, and at Inspirations we have found that forcing children to wear an apron limits this creativity.

As a nursery we  used to enforce aprons, but noticed this shortened creativity, interrupted learning or put the children off all together. Our environment is the third teacher. Our setting is set up to reflect this, to invite children to explore independently and learn through exploration. Each area is set up with an invitation to play and get involved. Let’s think about this from the child’s point of view, a child approaches an area with resources and paints and picks up the paintbrush. By this point the child is engrossed, excited, bouncing around ideas in their head. Brain development is happening right now and the synapse in their brain is firing rapidly…and we stop them to put an apron on.

What does this tell the child? That the neatness of their clothes are more important than their learning? Does it tell them that instead of observing their excitement and eagerly awaiting to see their approach to this activity we are instead simply seeing the negatives of making a mess. Not only that, but we are also interrupting cognitive brain development in that very moment, something we as a nursery work very hard not to do.

Art is Messy

We always suggest sending your child to nursery in clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. After all, a paint stained T shirt can still be a clean one, so wear it again and again.

There are of course times when aprons are strongly encouraged in the Art studio, when using dye’s and inks or techniques that involve throwing and splatting paint. We also have aprons available at all times so the option is always there, but we would never give the child an ultimatum when it comes to not wearing one.

As mindful nursery educators it’s our role to place the child at the forefront of everything and to give them to opportunity to create rich meaningful connections to the world. After all, imagine a nursery where your child returned home at the end of each day as clean as they were at the start?