Since writing my last post, I have been thinking a lot about the nature of creativity and children. What can we do as parents to foster it? By insisting that all of the paper scraps (origami) are picked up off the floor and thrown away, am I discouraging it?
Creative children become thoughtful, innovative, creative adults. That is the end goal, right? We want to lead our kids to explore, to achieve, to be curious. Among my children's friends, and many kids that take my sewing classes, I see loads of creativity. But I hear that they don't have time to make things outside of class. "We are just too busy!", I hear or, "we don't have any craft stuff!". While I'm not certain the lack of craft stuff is the real issue, but I think time is.
We all have the same amount of time in a given day. If you are like me, you feel stretched. My kids are limited to two activities at any given time, but still, we're busy. To foster creativity in our kids, they need unstructured time. With homework, lessons, sports, and friends, it's tough to do. I don't know about your house, but in mine, unstructured time frequently ends with my kids bickering. Often on weekends, unplugging just isn't enough. When I say its time to turn off the TV or iPad, they get restless and claim they are bored and that there is nothing to do. Sometimes we go on an outing, but other times, we stay home. On those days, instead of engaging in their bickering, I will start collecting things around the house and eventually ask for their help fetching some of the more "interesting" supplies. Pretty soon, I have their attention and the house is a wreck in their (our) creative endeavor.
Let's be honest, there are days when I don't want to start another project for my kids. I want them to take the initiative and start their own and leave me to mine. That doesn't always work out well. Kids need us to provide just enough time and space for them to unwind a bit and tap into their creativity. A bit of persistence, some supplies and just enough direction for them to confidently create. It often takes us to initiate the project. I'm not sure at what age the screen stops being the default activity.
As a kid, I spent a lot of time quietly drawing, sewing, knitting, reading and daydreaming. As the oldest of 10 children, we didn't have a lot of extra-curricular activities and weren't showered with attention. When I wanted to make something, I didn't have the internet to look up how to do it, I just figured it out. As for supplies, my grandmother sewed and gave me some things, but mostly I had to make do and use my imagination and be resourceful. That resourcefulness has served me well in life. I wonder if I am robbing my children of that. I often think as I am driving my kids to the hardware store, or art/craft supply store, do we really need something else?!?! Then I pause, and see their little faces and think that there are worse things to ask for than wood dowels, duct tape and PVC.
I wish you a creative weekend.