Welcome to part two of the Sprout series on kids’ creativity. Last week we talked about giving your kids the encouragement that they need to overcome the challenges that they will face. This week we are going to talk more about some things you can do to really get the creative juices flowing in your child.
The Source of Creativity
To the ancient Greeks, creativity came from a guiding spirit called a muse. This phrase has been adopted into our language to mean a source of creative inspiration.
Lots of famous artists have a muse. For some of them it is a person. John Lennon had Yoko Ono. For some of them it is a place. Wordsworth had Tinturn Abbey. For others it could be something entirely different.
Finding the muse is one of the greatest quests that any creative person will embark on. But one thing is sure. You can’t find inspiration by sitting in your bedroom.
You will never know what sparks your child’s creativity unless you get out and help them find it.
When I was a kid I thought that I wanted to be an engineer and design cars. I used to draw sleek red sports cars in my spare time. My parents were aware of my obsession and so they arranged for our entire family to take a trip to the Detroit Auto Show to see all the cars. They packed all 4 of us kids into the station wagon, drove for 5 hours, and paid for a few nights at a hotel all so that I could explore my interests.
If your child shows an interest in something help them to explore it. If they like dinosaurs find the closest natural history museum. If they like space then maybe take a trip to NASA. Take them out and get them into places where they can see and experience new things.
There are all kinds of opportunities if you just look for them. Community events and local art shows are a great place to start.
When I was growing up we did not live near many museums or large art galleries. There were no theatres or operas. We had to travel long distances to get to any of that. But my parents still found ways to help us experience new things.
My house was always full of books. My dad had hundreds of western novels and my mom had numerous biographies, auto-biographies, and historical novel. They were always reading something and so we read a lot too. I still remember some of the books that we had on the coffee table. One was a giant illustrated collection of Greek mythology.
I know earlier I said that you can’t find inspiration sitting in your room. That was a misleading statement. It is true that you can’t find inspiration sitting in your room, but you can find it reading in your room. Books can open up new worlds and expose your kids to new ideas that will give them fuel for their creative fires.
Even most small communities have a library. Take your kids for a visit. Get involved in the activities that they have. Encourage them to read about anything and everything.
Let your children explore their interests. The deeper and broader their well of inspiration is the more innovative their creations will be. Picasso’s famous style drew from a number of different influences. He took many of the distinct elements of African sculpture and melded them with his more traditional painting experience to create something entirely new.
The inspiration for your child’s creativity can come from any number of sources and from anywhere. You won’t know what it is until you find it. The best thing you can do to help your children is to expose them to as many different creative influences as you can.
Are you struggling to fill the empty space on the kids’ walls? Have you thought about decorating with vinyl wall decals?
Wall graphics are a fun way to add design to plain walls. Children can personalize the art by having their name or favorite animal on the wall. The graphics are versatile and can add to a theme of a room. They are easy to apply and will last for years. The art can also be changed as often as you like since the stickers will peel right off without ruining the paint.
Wall art has many designs to choose from. You can choose letter graphics to spell words or the child’s name. Here is one of my favorite letter ideas. The words add a playful touch and the grow chart is a fun idea.
A child’s initials is another option that personalizes the room. Another possibility is to have stickers of floral or animals. Currently, trees are a popular choice among many kids’ rooms. This other room shows a great way to use trees. I like the large tree graphics that cover the whole wall from top to bottom. The colors are subtle enough though that the decal isn't overbearing but adds a modern touch.
Graphics are easy to apply to walls. You peel off the sticker pieces from their backing and place them on a clean, smooth surface. It can be slightly tricky to get the decal flat so you can use a credit card to rub the design onto the wall. Most decals are long lasting, sticking to the wall for years.
Change it Up
Tired of the design? Take it off. Decals peel off easily and won’t chip off the paint. This allows you to change the design whenever you want or even reposition the art. You can adjust the art as your child grows up.
Where to Buy
Wall art is sold many places. Some retail stores carry the decals; however, we have found that the selection is limited. Many online sites offer a better assortment of designs. A few sites to consider are wallies.com, etsy.com/shop/NouWall, dalidecals.com, and weedecor.com. The last one has decals that are PVC-free and eco-friendly.
Children are born creative. They naturally come up with things that our adult minds would never think of. That’s why we love things like Kid President, Kid History, or this commercial from AT&T.
As parents we don’t need to teach our children to be creative. They already are. The trick for us is raising them in a way that keeps that creativity from being stifled. We at Sprout are dedicated to making things that help kids be creative. Our entire line of modern kids furniture is built around this idea.
Now we want to help you parents. Over the next few weeks we will give you a few different tips for things you can do to keep the creativity alive in your children.
One of the biggest reasons that children are so creative is that they are not afraid to be wrong. They are willing to try and say many things that would make most adults die of embarrassment. The famed educator Sir Ken Robinson gave a good example of this during his talk at the TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) Conference.
For a Christmas nativity three children were chosen to represent the wise men. During the show the first wise man approached and said, “I bring you gold.” The second came and said, “I bring you myrrh.” The third boy strode forward and unabashedly said, “Frank sent this.”
This kind of creativity is something that we have come to expect from children. But few adults would dare to say something like this. As we grow and become more and more self-conscious, fear of being wrong prevents us from taking the risks that result in creativity. In schools and at home children are told that there is a right and a wrong to everything. Right answers are praised and wrong answers are criticized.
The right/wrong attitude is so engrained in our culture that we are conditioning our children to stop thinking creatively. Rather than risk the ridicule of being wrong many children simply decide to give up. If you want your kids to make it through childhood unscathed you will have to protect them against the opposition they will face.
The best way to do this is by giving consistent encouragement to your kids. Build up their confidence and let them know that it is okay to be wrong. Here are a few tips to get you started.
When your son scrawls his first crayon giraffe put it up on the fridge even if it is nothing more than a few crude lines. If you daughter writes you a princess story tell her it is wonderful. I was very lucky to have proud parents. In his office my dad still has a framed drawing of a multicolored cow with two legs that my youngest sister drew when she was 5.
All children want to please their parents. Take the time to show your pleasure. Go out of your way to give them praise. Display their work in a prominent place. When visitors come over make sure to point it out to them while your child is listening.
There will be plenty of time later to teach your kids grammar or how to draw with perspective. Children don’t know the difference between criticism and constructive criticism. If you say something well intended like “Your portrait looks good, but you should have done this instead” all your child will hear is that their drawing was not good enough.
Hold off on the teaching moments until they are older. For now just let them create. You will have to live with a lot of sentence fragments and flat dimensionless drawings, but it will be worth it in the end.
Go out of your way to help your children’s creativity flourish. At the risk of being cliché, actions speak louder than words. It is one thing to praise your kids work and tell them that they are creative, but it is another to be actively engaged in the process. Show them how to paint or take crayon in hand and spend time drawing with them. Not only will this translate into valuable time with your kids, but it will prompt them to engage in creative activities more often.
When I started to show an interest in photography my dad gave me his old 33mm camera and showed me how to wind the film and work the shutter. I loved that camera and I was heartbroken when I lost it. Of course I was sad because the camera was gone. But I was sadder because it was my dad’s camera and we had captured some good memories with it.
As parents we are the ones responsible for helping our children stay creative. Their future depends on us. At the end of his speech Sir Ken Robinson shared a poem by W. B. Yeats entitled “Cloths of Heaven.”
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths, Enwrought with golden and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half-light, I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
The dreams of our little ones are spread under our feet. We must tread softly.
One year in business and it's finally here. After multiple requests and some advice from influential women, Sprout is proud to release our entire line of simple, modern, easy to assemble furniture in pink!. With the release we are offering FREE SHIPPING on orders over $50.
I have to be honest, at first I resisted the idea a little. Pink isn't exactly my color, but after finding a deep rich pink that I think fits our style, it was an obvious choice. Now you can organize your kids room with our organization products like the toybox, cubby, eco friendly bins, night stand, and our drawer organizer.