Nurturing Creativity in Children
Todays post is from my friend, Kara. I met Kara a few years ago in Prague and knew right away that we needed to be friends - She's a photographer, a foodie who's interested in health and nutrition, a world traveler, and she practices yoga. Kara has spent the last year living in the states and is currently working on moving back to Prague. I will be looking forward to seeing her there soon!
(Photo from Foundationphasewales.com)
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” ~ Pablo Picasso
Children have an endless supply of creative energy. I see it when my nieces originate their own songs and dance moves; when my friend’s son takes a stack of white paper and a pencil and writes his own adventure stories. Children can make something out of nothing. Because they don’t care what people think they can authentically explore their uniqueness. I wish I had the imagination I did when I was 5!
As we grow up it seems that in our (American) culture, imagination and creativity are seen as childish and therefore we need to “grow up” and “live in reality”. Personally, I am passionate about art and allowing imagination and creativity to grow and I have my own mother to thank for that.
I grew up with an incredibly artistic and talented mother. She was born and raised in New York City and spent much of her childhood attending ballets, Broadway, piano and guitar lessons and spent her evenings writing poetry. Naturally, from the time I was very young she instilled a deep desire to explore my creative side and not feel pressured to think only “inside the box”.
If you want to encourage your child’s creativity start here:
- Remember that creativity is not just a project or after school distraction. Encourage your kids to see the value in art. Take them to a museum, a gallery, a cooking demonstration. Allow them to witness others living out their unique talents. Ask the right questions. Find what kind of art your children like and take the time to explore that with them.
- As an artist, I can say that I need my space in order to create. As much as you want to encourage your child, don’t hover or feel the need to monitor at all times. Allow them a safe environment to explore. Honestly, they don’t need us to tell them how to draw, build or design something. If anything, we can learn so much more by watching them! Also, refrain from giving judgment or too much critique. Remember that art is as unique as people are, and despite how you may want to react, your child needs to feel that what they offer to the art world holds value. Love them for their willingness to try, not the end result.
- Offer guidance in whatever ways you can. If you enjoy cooking, bring your child into the kitchen with you and offer them the opportunity to participate. If you play an instrument, share your love of music. Whatever it may be, don’t hold back. Art is meant to be shared.
- Lastly, it’s important that originality is cultivated. The greatest innovators have always been those who thought differently from the rest. Just think how different our world would be if people like The Wright Brothers, Pablo Picasso or even J.K. Rowling were not encouraged to be themselves, original and full of imagination.
To see a few young artists’ creativity, check out the International Child Art Foundation’s gallery.
Here’s a fun family art project that everyone can participate in!
Using an old toy chest, a cardboard box, etc you and spend time with your family making a family keepsake box; something to hold your mementos for years to come. I love using recycled materials and craft supplies including glue, stencils, markers, paint, newspaper or used colored tissue paper and gift wrap.
Get creative and cut out a variety of shapes and use lots of color! Let each family member design and contribute something that expresses who they are. The best part is deciding what to include in the keepsake box. My family has placed old movie ticket stubs, vacation photos, souvenirs, foreign money, music CDs that we all like, anything that reminds of quality time together. Ours even has a jar of sand and a small sombrero from a trip to Mexico. Take pictures of your family during this project and use those as the first memento to go in the box!