Sunday, December 6, 2009

Teaching Children to be Creative

One of the many hats that I wear is that of art teacher. I teach children as young as 5 and adults as high as they want to go. Studies have shown that studying art and experiencing creativity helps children to excel in every area of their lives. Over the years I've found that many parents think they can't do art with their children. They say, "Well I'm just not very creative." or "Why, I can't even draw a straight line." Well, I've got news for you. Drawing a straight line has nothing to do with it. Its more about freedom and fun than anything else. And kids are the easiest because they already feel creative freedom and already know how to have fun. You're just along for the ride!

Let's talk first about some barriers parents put up that stifle their kids creatively. A common complaint from my students is that their parents won't let them do anything messy. One can rarely be creative without being messy. So get a couple of vinyl table cloths. Throw one on the kitchen table and one on the floor and loosen up. Or better yet, when the weather allows, work outside. Come on parents, loosen up. Those kids are washable.

Another complication that parents often put on their children artistically is to expect the results to look like something straight out of a gift shop. They are kids. Their focus isn't that of an adult. Their fine motor skills aren't that of an adult. And their perspective isn't the same as an adult. So, let them be kids. Let them be artists. And see what wonderful creations they come up with.

WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T FIX THEIR WORK. It won't be perfect. Thats ok. What you want to communicate to them is that it is fun to make art and what they make is delightful. Don't critique every line they draw or every color they choose. It is ok to make a few small corrections if they are said with a positive attitude and prefaced with a positive comment.. Something like this, "I love the bright colors you are choosing. Perhaps this line should be a bit shorter."

Display their work. You, as their parents, are the single most important factor influencing their sense of creativity for years to come. Of course, there is the classic home gallery, the refrigerator. Also they will love turning their rooms into their own personal art gallery. Let your kids use their art as gifts for grandparents, teachers, or even friends. Just think how affirming it is to them to believe that their artistic work is valuable enough to be a gift. Take a few of your favorite pieces and frame them. Yes, even hang them in your livingroom.

In the next week I will talk with you more about how to help your kids grow up to be creative people. Also I will give you some tutorials for inexpensive projects you can do with them.

I've included some examples done by some of my students ages 6, 11, and 12 respectively.



13 comments:

Carol said...

So much wisdom here, Thanks Elizabeth for sharing your insight and experience with us. I still have my children's artwork on my walls and they are all past 30 now. Needless to say the fridge here is full of pictures my grandkids have sent to me. I love kid art it's so pure and from the heart.

Toni said...

Fostering creativity is SO important! In this day of Toys that play for you while you sit and watch, being an example of a creative person who plays, draws, tells stories or just makes funny voices while making the teddy bear talk is a refreshing and fun way to show kids from babyhood on how to live creatively.

ArtSnark said...

great post! & so true

mookiejones said...

Good advice. Also, you can learn a lot about your kids from what they draw and what they say about it.

Trudy said...

Oh what wonderful words Wind! I love watching children create. I will never forget Gracie. She is 4. When she finished her beautiful drawing she wadded it up, ran outside and threw it up into the air. As I chased after her I said, "Gracie how come you did that?" She responded, "That is for Amma! She will love it!" Well Amma(Grandma) died last year and Gracie always talked about Amma in Heaven.

On my way home I took Amma's wadded up picture with me so that Gracie wouldn't see it the next day. I will always treasure that special Heavenly picture!

Trudy said...

Oh Wind I forgot to tell you how awesome your students pieces are. Wow! Quite the budding artists!

mvegan said...

Wonderful! I'm also an art teacher (when I'm in CA) I have a grad. degree in art education, and loooove teaching art to kids, I incorporate art here in Israel into my English lessons, which is really fun. I completely agree with your post above, and look forward to seeing more! :) Michele

WindandHoney said...

What a wonderful story Trudy. Thanks for sharing it.

Christine Burgess said...

I so agree with what you have posted here about allowing a child to express themselves creatively.
Just yesterday when my kids(30 & 28) were decorating the tree with me they get all teary eyed seeing all the ornaments they made all those years ago while attending school.

Brenda Lynn said...

Great post, E. The importance of parents as artistic mentors continues to grow as the arts are cut from our public school itinerary. Artistic participation, whether it be visual, musical, written, etc. has been proven time and time again to improve academic achievement. Besides, what a very bland world this would be without the beauty of the arts. I applaud your efforts at keeping a huge part of the "good life" alive and growing right from the heart of the home.

Heather said...

I agree! Such good advice. I wish more parents would help their children be creative.

MYSTIC SILKS said...

I encourage my grandchildren to paint, and they're in their 20's--Oh, I can't draw they tell me.
I ask tehm, can you write? Well, yes, they reply.
Then you can draw and paint!!


Good post--:)

Lrc said...

Really wonderful...I used to teach art and I say amen! So many kids just needed the freedom to be messy and to make 'mistakes'. I still keep a few of the kids artwork because how they see hasn't been coralled yet...I wish more schools realized the value of art to children's development too.

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