Why Red Paint?

by Connie Glass, Former Open Door Educational Consultant

A parent of a two-year-old said to us one autumn day, “You sure are hung up on red paint, aren’t you?” It was good that she said that, because it brought to mind our reasons for what we are doing, and gave us an opportunity to communicate our thinking with you. Yes, it is true that so far every time we have had paint, it has been red, and will continue to be red for a long time. Very young children have had little opportunity to experience painting, and we want them to explore the process of applying paint to the paper without being distracted by making choices about which color to use. We see the amazement in their eyes as they take the brush, dip it into the paint, and actually make red appear on the paper. Some have learned already that the use of paint is soon followed by the very popular washing of hands. They are learning that an adult will put their name on the paper, and that they can take the wet painted picture to the hall to dry. They have learned to make strokes with the brush, or to dip with a sponge or another object. They are beginning to learn the difference between painting on paper and painting on the table. They are learning to sponge off the table, floor, and hands when they, too, become red. This is a lot for them, and for now, it is enough. Other colors will come along as the children mature. Right now, they are simply into painting for painting’s sake. Learning is a process, not a product. Please feel free to ask about this or anything else; it’s good to make us think.