Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Integrating Art Into Your Child's Life

Brad and I both painted up through our college years. He created in mostly oils and acrylics, while I dabbled in a bit of everything but found most satisfaction in watercolors. I suppose that because of our interest in art, creativity flows somewhat naturally in our home. However, I would certainly say that it is something that has to be encouraged, especially in the early stages of integrating art into your child's life.

When I look at the world around me, it is very evident to me just how creative the Creator was/is. And since we are made in His image, we have inherited those creative "genes."

Now it is probably true that the degree of artistic talent varies from person to person, but I also believe that it is the responsibility of us as parents to expose our children to opportunities that encourage artistic expression. It is going to be very difficult to discover what areas your child is talented in if you don't provide the opportunities for your child to try various activities. This applies to any talent, not just art.

Integrating art into your child's life does not have to be a monumental, difficult task. It just takes a little thinking ahead of time, and a little encouragment in the beginning, and soon you will find your children jumping at the chance to create something.

Here are some things that I have done here at our home to encourage creativity in our children:

* Keep a variety of art supplies readily available to your children. I posted before about our armoire in the living room. The bottom half of that armoire houses all kinds of art supplies ~ paper, tablets, paints, markers, crayons, stickers, chalk, glue, stamps, etc. I used to keep these things up high, but now that my children are a little older, it's down low where they can access it at anytime during the waking day.

* Shop your local thrift stores for fun items that could be used in crafting. I've purchased a number of embroidery hoops, buttons, stamps, fabric scraps, yarn, knitting needles, sewing patterns, art books, and more from our local thrift stores. Also look at items that aren't necessarily art items like baskets, wool jackets that can be washed and turned into felted wool for sewing projects, and wooden items that could be painted and personalized.

* Shop the back-to-school sales each fall. I stock up in a major way every August when WalMart has their sale going on. This is the time to buy markers, crayons, colored pencils, glue, tablets, etc. And I always buy the Crayola brand because they are a better quality, and, on sale, are usually only 10 or 15 cents more than the off-brand.

* We have a "this and that" bin that basically is just that ~ a bin of odds and ends that I've collected over the months. Things such as washed out food containers, old yarn, pieces of felt and foam, old pill containers, old silk flowers, unusual items I've found at the thrift store, etc., find their way into this bin. Then the kids can pull this bin out and create whatever their hearts desire. This really inspires creativity!

* Painting and home improvement stores will dispose of their old wallpaper sample books when the paper becomes outdated. Call your nearest store and see if you can purchase one that they are about to toss out. You may even get it free like I did! Once you have your book, lay it out on the table with scissors and glue for everyone, and tell your kids that they have to make a picture using nothing but the paper and glue. And then join them. It's lots of fun!

* Borrow art books from the library or purchase some inexpensively from half.com if your budget permits. Then study the paintings with your children, and ask your children what they think the painting shows, what the artist is trying to express, how the painting makes them feel. Some of these books even have discussion questions already written for the parent and child to talk about. I just ordered a couple of these kinds of books off of half.com to include in our art curriculum next year.

* Display your children's works of art. I couldn't possibly keep every picture my kids produce - I would be drowning in paper if I did. I bought three large magnetic clips at WalMart, one for each child. Each child gets to display one picture on the fridge at a time. Then the child gets to pick their favorite pictures, sign and date them, and they get moved to bins I keep in my closet. I read about one mom who took photos of each of her children's art works and then made a photo book of all of them at the end of each year. I thought that this was an awesome idea and one that I have wanted to implement but haven't yet.

(Crayon sketch by Lily)

(Colored pencil sketch by Ian)

(Watercolor painting by Sergei)

* Play some classical music in the background while your children are creating. I find that soft classical music calms my children and really gets the creativity flowing.

* And my last tip ~ limit your children's exposure to television and computer. Although both of these technologies can serve very good purposes, many children today receive all or most of their mental stimulation (outside of school) solely from the t.v. or computer. T.V. may keep your child entertained and out of your hair, but it does very little for their creativity and mental growth. The television begins to think for your child, and I see nothing positive in that.

Blessings to your home, and may you have many memorable art-filled moments!


Wendi said...

I love watching kids create. I agree about limited t.v and computer time.

Anonymous said...

What an awesome Mom you are! Love your blog, and totally agree that over-exposure to TV and computers is ruinous. We are fighting that battle constantly with our 13-year old son, whom we adopted from Ukraine only a year ago. We allow computer access only for school work or research--no computer games or facebook, but he does have x-box and left to his own devices would play it every waking hour. I like your craft ideas and will work on implementing them with him.

Amber said...

Alycia - Sergei would do the same thing with television/computer if we let him. All of our kids tv/computer time is extremely limited so he's learned to just accept it. The only time we watch television is if we watch it together, like when we have family movie nights. And the computer is only allowed to be used for school - games are prohibited. We do have a wii but, again, their is a very strict time restriction on that and the kids are only allowed to play on Saturdays. It probably sounds harsh to some, but limiting tv/computer/wii use to this extreme is what works best for our family. So stick with your limits. Sometimes we have to love tough, you know what I mean?! :)