Monday, August 23, 2010

Nurturing Creativity and Talents

Eliza wanted me to post some of her latest "art."  And looking at the pictures I've taken of her stuff plus hearing her in the kitchen right now doing "arts and crafts time" with the twins made me think about the creativity that I see in my home - and what I've done to nurture it. I don't have it all figured out - not by any stretch of the imagination.  But I have figured out a few things that have worked well for my own kids and their own specific needs - everyone's different - I'm certainly not saying what I've found would work well in YOUR home.  But I thought I'd share my thoughts, just the same...

I've found that when we don't spend much time on TV or game systems or too many structured, scheduled extracurricular activities for the kids - and when we do have lots of basic art supplies and building toys and dress-ups and books around - plus some good outdoor space - kids get pretty creative - each in their own way.

Ashton's still spending several hours a day working on ingenious creations with his beloved Lego Mindstorm.  He also spends time reading.  He's loved the Lightning Thief series (but was pretty disappointed in the movie).  He makes up songs on the electric piano and makes up plays for the rest of the kids to put on with him.  He's also really into photography and catching lizards.  Here are a couple examples of him combining his photography and lizard-catching prowess:















Isaac comes up with great adventure games outside - he's my greatest nature-lover and outdoor guy.  He also loves building with K'nex and he and Ashton had the greatest time making this "armor" out of duct tape and old t-shirts for use in their secret clubhouse in the open space behind our house.  I love that they can come up with this stuff!  They went on to figure out how to make cool duct tape wallets and various other things from duct tape.  Who would have guessed it could be so darn useful...


Eliza spends the vast majority of her non-school time "doing art" and creating fun plays and "school" activities for the twins.  She can find beauty in everything and can come up with such intriguing concepts.  Plus most of what she does has some element of teaching values and expressing love in it - which makes her stuff all the more dear.  Here are a few of Eliza's latest creations (art and theater):
 Eliza and the twins made this for my yesterday.  Liza sent Oliver to find out what sort of snack I wanted and I was eating pepper slices at the time so I said I was good with pepper slices - so Oliver sneaked a few from my plate when I wasn't looking and they came back a few minutes with this nice little presentation.
Eliza said this one was called "The Tree of Peace" and the words say God, Jesus, Love, Faith, Family, Repent, Light, Prophets - I thought it was pretty lovely and insightful.

Oliver and Silas mostly get pulled into whatever their older siblings are doing when they're around.  But when they're on their own, they love making up and acting out scenarios - most of which involve being super heroes or dogs who usually talk in funny squeaky voices.
Here's a "lap top" Eliza made for the twins at their request (out of a cereal box).  They played with it for days, making different "screens" for it.  Liza took the photo herself so it's just a tad bit blurry.


I could go on but really I just wanted to share some of the fruits of the stuff that we've felt we should do in our home - get the TV off, steer clear of gaming systems, stock the house with carefully chosen toys and books and plenty of cheap art and craft stuff, and avoid over-scheduling our kids with structured activities.

That said, I want to clarify that I'm not totally against TV and computer and game systems and extra-curricular activities.  We do a movie night every Friday and the kids do watch TV on occasion (all we have is the major networks and PBS kids - works out great).  The twins have found great ideas for little plays to put on and have learned to read thanks to various PBS Kids shows plus we all love a good movie and deliberate TV time has a lot to offer.  I think Wii is great and we've all loved playing Wii games with friends and relatives.  But I love that we don't have it in our home and it's absence has helped the kids have time for a lot of other great things (some families do a great job with having such things and limiting them nicely but I have one particular child who would NOT be able to leave such a thing alone and I don't want to fight that battle).

Maybe we've overdone it on limiting extra-curricular activities - the big boys do scouts plus they do choir and drums at school.  Eliza's doing soccer.  Isaac and Ashton will probably do basketball this winter.  I occasionally teach them piano lessons and Jared does a guitar lesson once in a while for Ashton who's really quite good on the guitar and probably ought to have lessons from an outside source at some point.  That's something I struggle with - figuring out how to make sure they get to try what they're interested in while protecting time for them to be creative and figure out their own interests to some degree.  Plus we really want to protect our family dinners and Saturday hikes and bike rides and other family activities that we so enjoy doing together - those things get squeezed pretty hard when we're doing soccer games and basketball games with so many of our evenings and weekends...

So I sure don't have it all figured out.  But one thing I know for sure, kids come with some beautiful creative tendencies and talents that we, as parents, can and should help nurture.  They may have talents that most common extra-curricular activities don't address (sports and dance are wonderful but there's so much more our kids might be good at that might be best nurtured right in our homes!).  Of course, the most effective methods for nurturing the seeds of our kids' potential will be different with each family and with each child.  But we don't have to "go with the flow" - we can be deliberate in determining how we'll nurture our kids' creativity and help them develop their talents.

Plus I think that childhood needs to be protected - and that essential elements of childhood are free time (w/o much access to TV and video games), easily-available raw materials (art supplies, building toys, etc.), open space and lots of praise for their creativity. 

Just my thoughts for today...

3 comments:

bjahlstrom said...

I just love how you've addressed everything in this post, Saren. I have always agreed with these principles. I don't have kids yet, but I'm remembering this!

Eyrealm said...

I've always said is that one of the things need most is unorganized time and space. Good work! So fun to see this!

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