Let Them Create

My husband and I are both artistic, so many moms have asked me how we do art with our kids. Now, before I dive into the nitty gritty, with extra gritty, prepare yourself. What I'm about to tell you will require a little creative thinking and a some stretching of your mind. You know all those little organized boxes you put your thoughts into? I'm about to shake those up...just a little.

Coloring Outside the Lines

I have 2 boys. If you have boys you know they typically won't sit still for too long, so the idea of them staying put and creating anything for more than 20 minutes (if not 10) can be a pipe dream. My boys have absolutely NO interest in coloring books, or anything that puts boundaries on them. They're too confining! It certainly doesn't keep them engaged.

So what do we do?

Blank paper. Big sheets, little sheets, construction paper...that's it. Then they get markers, pencils, pens, acrylics, watercolors, pastels. At this stage (8 and 5 years old), they prefer markers. I see much more creativity coming from them when I fuss less, so get the cheap markers and paints and let them "waste" them. Particularly when they are young, they don't need a lot of "how to's". I don't want to turn my boys off to art by pushing theories on them too soon.

Get Messy

Okay so here's where a lot of moms start to hyperventilate. Remember I said I would shake those organized boxes a little? Just remember, deep breaths...

So here's the deal. If I were to lay out art time with fancy new paints and canvases (or whatever) and say,

"Okay, it's painting time!" but all the while I'm fussing over clothes and tables and floors getting messy, how do you think that will affect my children? Now I'm not saying anything goes. What I AM saying is put down a plastic disposable table cloth. Assign paint clothes. Internalize the neurosis, put on a smile and let them create! If you're stressed over art time, they will be too. AND let them misuse the supplies. If they want to mix their medias, like using a marker on canvas board, then glitter, then paint...let them! Give them ownership of their creativity. The great innovators of history gave themselves permission to cross over social norms. Leonardo da Vinci used his study of the human body (science) to better his painting and drawing (art). Sometimes if we allow our own lines to get blurred, we are less inclined to put unnecessary boundaries on our children.

It's Your Turn

If art is important to you for your family, the best thing you can do is sit down with them and participate. When I leave my kids to draw so I can go fold laundry, they MIGHT get into it, but when I I sit down with them, they are more engaged. Like anything else, when our kids see us doing something, it puts more value on it. Do you want your kids to love reading? Do they ever catch you reading? Don't worry about your abilities. When they find out you aren't perfect at drawing it could reduce any performance anxiety they may have in their own abilities.

Setting the Stage

So at our house we draw on walls. We have 2 chalkboard walls, really just walls painted gray, and our boys have permission to draw on them with chalk. We also have a large easel laid flat that we do many things on, but especially draw and paint. It's got paint all over it. No need to worry about ruining the table! You don't have to do these things to have a creative environment. If you have space, make an art station. Making it easy for your kids to do arts and crafts will give them more reason to do so. Sometimes, without saying anything, I'll set out new paper or paints. My kids always take the bait. Then they feel like they are doing it on their own terms. They have ownership.

Whatever you decide works best for your family, I hope you just have fun creating. No need to spend an hour on a craft that will take them 5 minutes to accomplish. Take yourself, and them, off the hook. You might be surprised with what those wonderful little brains come up with all on their own!

Chelle Fazal

Artist and mom of 2


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