Spoiler alert: you’re not going to find many/any step by step projects here.
While crafts are lovely to look at, and really validate us as adults when they are finished, photographed and put up on the ‘gram, they don’t do a whole lot for our kids.
Now I hear some of you out there yelling:
“But they give kids a creative outlet!”
“But they’re practicing their fine motor skills!”
“They need to know how to finish what they start!”
And I don’t want to disagree with you, but …
I kinda disagree with you.
(Please don’t leave! I want to share some information with you.)
Let’s look closer:
“But they give kids a creative outlet!” This one is completely false. Closed-ended crafts limit creative freedom and box kids in. While some kids may seem more comfortable with this, it’s not because “that’s just who they are!” – it’s actually because we haven’t developed and promoted a creative culture. Kids who panic when given an open-ended opportunity, or who don’t have a model to look at, aren’t being encouraged to get creative when they’re given a model; they are being told that they don’t need to be creative. We just reinforce their mistaken belief that they aren’t creative.
But we are ALL creative beings at heart.
“But they’re practicing their fine motor skills!” This is a YES … but … kind of phrase. Yes, they may be cutting an gluing and manipulating, or colouring within the lines, BUT … what if they could do this in an open-ended experience?
If they could:
- Caregivers would have less to prep
- Conversations about problem solving would be more apt to happen
- They might find their own creative styles and voices
… all while practicing their fine motor skills, which is crucial to develop and refine. So it’s kinda win-win, isn’t it?
“They need to know how to finish what they start!” And why, exactly, can’t they finish their own art pieces after they’ve started them? If you want them to finish the things they start, then this is where you come in. This is where you get to be a positive and powerful influence on your kids. This is where you get to have meaningful conversations about their creativity and creative processes, while getting to know them so deeply.
Look, I know it’s hard. I know it can be messy. I know when we are the products of closed-creativity it feels like an impossible task.
But this is where we change things.
This is where we heal our own art scars — the damage that was done by (likely well-intentioned) teachers and parents and caregivers who (likely unknowingly) limited our creativity and encouraged us to become careful adults.
… but how do we do that?
It comes in many, many small ways. And we aren’t ever going to be perfect at it. And we aren’t ever going to hit the nail on the head every time. We’re human … we can make mistakes. And in essence, this is what we get to teach our children through the process of being creative people, and having a creative home.
It can be as (seemingly) small as how we respond:
“Tell me about how you picked your colours!” rather than “Why did you colour Santa Claus with blue?” (That question tells them they’re wrong. There is no wrong with creativity – just exploration!)
“What was the best part of making this?” rather than “Did you have fun?” (That’s a closed question. They don’t have to think about it. They won’t reflect. And they won’t learn. AND we won’t get to hear their fascinating ideas.)
“What would happen if you made this same piece of art, but you used a different medium?” (Note, you’re probably going to have to suggest a medium until your kids know the word medium!) rather than “That’s cool.” (An affirmation of their work without a reason, or a prompting question, tells them it is fine, and they are finished, and now just move on. This is a limiting way to talk to our kids.)
There are a billion other ways to foster the creative environment our kids need.
Who wants to learn more about this? I’m working on something VERY special that I’m hoping to launch in 2021. If you’re into it, I’d love for you to comment here, or follow along on Instagram @artboxfamily, or find me somewhere on social media or in my inbox (email@example.com) and let me know that you want to learn more!
And then, you can check out what else is going on around here!
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Or check out my art insta!