Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
Kids have amazing natural curiosity & creativity. Just watch a group of kids play (with little to no toys) for a few minutes & you'll have no doubt. They can come up with the most amazing ideas & stories & games. Hand kids some paper & markers & stickers. They'll have pictures & cards & books made in a few minutes.
But then, sometimes, they get bored & start fighting. And we run for the easiest thing to keep them happy - a screen or device! (I'm just as guilty of this as the next parent, so don't feel judged! We're all figuring this parenting thing out together.)
Instead, let's find ways to keep that imagination alive & well. (Again, I'm not saying TV is bad - my kids love using ideas from their favorite shows to make their own games to play.) It might take a little more planning or involvement from us, but we can do this! These precious little souls are so important!
First step - Let those precious kiddos get bored.
Instead of over-scheduling your summer (or school year), let there be plenty of margin in your child's life. They need downtime as much as you do. Rest is important for their physical growth & mental health.
One strategy for getting your kids to be creative is to have art & craft supplies placed in easily accessible places. In her book The Brave Learner, Julie Bogart encourages the use of a small table where the kids can easily sit down & create. She wouldn't just stock it with the ordinary crayons, markers, & paper. She would leave recyclables (like bottles & egg cartons), household odds & ends (spools, rubber bands, clothes pins, etc.), or natural elements (sticks, pine cones, rocks, moss, etc.) on the table. You don't have to get too far out of the box because kids are also happy with crayons & a coloring book! Then, during those "bored" days, they'd know that they could sit down at that table & see what they might create that day.
I know I don't have space for a dedicated table, but I can make a space in a closet that they can easily find all they need to create something new! Or you can even get the supplies out for them & place them on a table during the hours when you know they tend to need something to do. (Some educators call this an "invitation" to play or create.) And you know what gets them even more interested in this stuff? If you take a few minutes to sit & paint or color or draw with them. Quality time for the win!
Some of you are saying, "But Elaine! I've never painted before! I can only draw stick figures! How am I supposed to get creative with my kids if I myself don't feel very gifted in this area." If you know me in real life, you might have caught on that I am not very athletic or into exercising more than is absolutely necessary. (Maybe that's why I'm still holding on to that quarantine 15, but never mind!) So, if I can manage to get my kids interested in moving their bodies everyday, you can get your kids interested in being creative once or twice a week. I believe in you!
A free option is YouTube. There are so many people out there who want to teach your kids about arts & crafts! So, you don't have to be an expert artist yourself- thank goodness, right?
Red Ted Art - From the very basics of crafting to fun little projects, this channel is a great place to start. I even see some Valentine ideas that will come in handy next month!
The Artful Parent - This whole channel is just beautiful. They've got simple art projects that toddlers can do & also fun stuff for the older ones. I'm definitely bookmarking this one for my family.
Art with Matt & Dada - Fun little animated videos about great artists like Rembrandt, Turner, Pollack, & more! I'll be using these for our artist studies. It might even inspire a new art project.
If art lights your kid (or you) up, maybe it's time to invest some more time & money into those skills! You can check the local art studios & schools to learn of any classes available near you.
Or there might even a workshop that would just be a fun outing for you & your child. Large chains like Michael's used to host these before COVID, and maybe they will again soon. You might have some local places that have workshops, too!
Composers, painters, singers, musicians, dancers, poets - so many creative people that your kids would really enjoy getting to know!
We incorporate artist, composer, & poet studies into our homeschool. We follow the AmblesideOnline rotation, but there are so many wonderful artists to study that are outside of that list.
We have checked out picture books from the library that tell stories of artists & musicians. Imagination Soup has a post about some of these. And there are always new ones being published! these are a great way to introduce your kids to these people.
If you have the chance, take your kids to art galleries. (And don't tell me they're too expensive if you're willing to pay for amusement park tickets... ) You can research ahead of time & pick a few of the paintings housed in the particular museum you're planning to visit. Have your kids get familiar with them so when they see it in real life, they can notice details they might've missed before. (This will also allow you to monitor which exhibits you might want to avoid based on your family standards for art. You know - nudity, social issues, religion, etc.)
Take them to the local symphony concerts. Or a cheaper option might be if you have a college or youth symphony in your area. When we lived in Maryland, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra had an annual kids' concert where they performed pieces like "Peter & the Wolf." If all else fails, find a recording on YouTube! We do this for our composer studies & the kids remember the pieces better this way.
Find out if there's a children's theater that produces plays that are of high quality & meet your family's standards. At Christmas time, find a performance of The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol. Or a local high school that might be putting on a play.
Expose your kids to great artists & their work! It will make them so much more well-rounded as individuals, I promise!
Once you run through those ideas, here are few others!
Pinterest is always a friend. I have a board where I've been collecting some ideas for my kids. Feel free to check it out (& follow me!) when you need ideas.
I hope this was helpful for you & your family! I firmly believe that our creativity reflects God's creativity. It's a wonderful way to connect with Him when you learn about these other art forms. That makes it worth the attempt, right?
Cheering you on!
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