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Helping Children Tap into Their Creativity

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There are countless books on creative projects for children that can be done at home.

On a bulletin board near my desk is a still life of flowers in a vase that my daughter drew and gave me years ago. I keep it there because it is a beautiful drawing, was a gift from my daughter and because it represents a good parenting moment for me. My daughter drew the flowers during the summer. There are recognizable flowers from our garden.

On that July day my child was home and I had a deadline. I do not allow the television to be on during the day, but I was tempted—very tempted—because I needed to meet my deadline and things were looking grim. I had a moment of desperate inspiration. (Necessity really is the mother of invention…) I went out into the garden with my daughter and we picked some flowers and popped them into a vase. I sat her down at the kitchen table with paper and a pile of colored pencils and asked her to please “make me a picture.” Lucky for me, she went to work willingly. I still appreciate the results today on my bulletin board. The success of this experiment lead to other artistic projects like leaf rubbings, nature collages, “cities” made out of recycled household materials, dioramas, decorated box forts, and fairy houses.

All of these projects involved materials readily available in our garden, in our home or in our art supply box. Over time, my daughters branched out. They learned to knit. They were old enough to be trusted with a hot glue gun. They modeled clay. They built architectural models. They learned to use acrylics and oils. They asked to take art classes during the summer. The day when they learned to clean up after their artistic pursuits is an especially happy memory for me. This summer both my daughters will be volunteering as teaching assistants at an art camp.

Exposing children to art and helping them tap into their own creativity has turned out to be a gift. What started out as a healthy way to occupy their time, has built skills like resourcefulness, the ability to occupy oneself and, most important to me, the ability to see and create something beautiful and of value out of raw materials. These days it is hard to keep kids off of screens of all sorts. Granted, there are plenty of artistic things that kids can do on screens these days, but it is also important to teach kids how to pursue their creativity in other ways. There are countless books on creative projects for children that can be done at home. The Internet is a great resource as well. By not allowing yourself to succumb to the easy answer of “plugging them in,” you may end up helping your child discover a talent or skill that could “feed” them in unknown ways.

My daughter was proud of the drawing she gave me all those years ago…. and so was I. She signed the drawing. Her childlike script is visible in the lower left corner. My bulletin board is a constant rotation, but this drawing is not moving.

[AUTHOR: Hilary Doubleday]

June 11, 2015

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