Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Encouraging Your Children To Be Creative

One of the things that I love (and I mean really love!) seeing is my four children sitting quietly (Ha! did I say quietly?!) at the kitchen table, pen in hand, drawing pictures from their incredible imaginations! It thrills my heart!

 It's probably true that they have inherited a part of their creative genes from myself and therefore it does come somewhat naturally to them. But before you say, "I'm not creative so my kids aren't going to be either," there has been things that I've deliberately put into place in our home that has helped to encourage (not force) their creativity and give them easy access to the supplies they need. 

If you're wanting to encourage your kids in this way too, and you're not sure where to start, then the following suggestions could work for your family like they have mine.

Here's a list of the practical things that I've done:

  • Created a designated 'art box' that is sitting in the dinning room, near the table. It's full of pencils, crayons, pens, rubbers, paints, glue sticks, safety scissors, etc. It is very easily accessible (during their free time) but it's also the responsibility of the children to keep it in order. They know I don't mind it getting untidy while they're busy creating, but they must be the ones to re-organise it, making sure that everything goes in there properly when they're done.

  • I invested in some 'learn to draw books' for their birthdays when they were on special. These have been fantastic in teaching them about the techniques of drawing. They also help inspire them when they're a bit stuck with what to draw.

  • I filled a cookie jar with good quality felt pens (good quality isn't essential ... I'm just fussy!!) and crayons so that they are in easy reach of little arty fingers!
  • We brought them visual art diaries when they were in between four and five years old (previous to that it was just loose paper) so that firstly, it eliminated the paper everywhere which was beginning to drive me nuts!, and also because it gives them their own 'space' to let their imaginations run free! I also get to keep these journals to look back on (and sometimes giggle at) in years to come!
  • I have hung them on the fridge or put them in my special 'mummy box' so they see their work is precious.

  • Sending their artworks to family has served a two fold purpose; firstly they learn to bless others and give them something to please them, and they appreciate the simple, kind comments in return.

Here's what I do 'verbally' to encourage them:

  • Talk them through some techniques and demonstrate how to achieve the result that they're after
  • Remind them that it's o.k. to make mistakes 

  • I make comments like, "You're such a great artist!" and "That's a great artwork!" and I find this encourages them a lot.
  • When they ask, "Mummy does this look good?", if there's something that's not quite right, I'll gently suggest some changes they could make to improve (but not every time), but I always add positives to it. I want to be honest and give them some help, but I really desire them to also keep the uniqueness about their art and not attempt to change their styles either. I'm not wanting to crush their efforts.

  • When they become discouraged by something not working like they want it to, I just remind them that it's fine to make mistakes and learn from them, they just need to keep going and not give up.
It may sound like art is something that's a 'must do' in our home, but it's not. My kids have seen me creating since their birth and it's something they've willingly wanted to be involved in themselves. It's at least every second day that there's something being created by one or all of them. Is that the same at your house too?!

I think the best thing that has helped to encourage my children to be creative is for me to enjoy their development. It's really wonderful seeing them go from creating people where the arms and legs stick out from the head itself (which are so cute!), to a person with a much more recognizable form! 

I have loved not pushing them to achieve, to change, to 'work harder' or 'be perfect' at it ... they are just kids! Me loving their creativity, acknowledging their 'masterpieces', and enjoying where they're individually at is priceless for them and for me too. 

When art is something that makes you relax, is fun, and is without in-achievable expectations, it becomes such a beautiful blessing and something that our kids will want to stick at (hopefully) all their lives.

What are some ways that you encourage your kids to be creative? Do you do any of the things I've mentioned above with your little ones? Are you wanting to try any of these for your children?

I hope you have a beautiful week, enjoying the creativity of your little ones ... I think I'll be buying my almost five year old his first art journal today!

(Linking up with the inspiring bloggers at CreateWithJoy)

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