Wednesday, November 3, 2010

sparking creativity

I made a big mommy mistake. Several weeks ago, I signed up Elizabeth, my most creative and biggest art-lover of a child, for art classes at a local art school...without telling her. Before I get any further into this story, you should know that Elizabeth and I both have taken many art classes here before, although hers were mostly the 5-day summer camp variety, and we both love the teachers, atmosphere and creativity that abound there.

I thought I was doing a good thing. One of her best friends was also taking the class, and they were one person short of the enrollment they needed to continue the class. What's the big deal, right? Well, she was not happy with me when she found out. I thought after attending the class for a week or two she'd discover that she really loved it, and her irritation would be water under the bridge.

And that was mostly what happened. As she attended the last session, I asked her if she'd be interested in taking another class there soon. A resounding "no" fell from her lips. After several discussions over the next few days, I finally was able to draw from her the reason why she was so disinterested in taking art classes from our fabulous art school right now.

She said, "mom, I love art, and I like all the things I learn in my art class at school, but sometimes I don't want someone telling me what kind of art to do."

Between that and my realization that she really doesn't like having a structured activity after school, it makes sense to me now. She needs the opportunity in the evenings to be creative, in her own way, her own time, her own space.

These kids are always teaching me something. Sometimes all it takes is bringing home a wooden truck from a yard sale to occupy Finn's attention for 2-3 hours, once some watercolors are thrown into the mix. And sometimes I just need to let them figure out for themselves what to do with their free time.

Although I know they enjoy when I plan weekend art/cooking projects for them, and I don't know how we'd get through the summer without an art camp or two, all they really need are supplies, crayons, pencils, paints, wax, paper, cardboard, and various items gathered outdoors, to spark their creativity.


  1. I have a hard time not making my kids into the people I want to be..instead letting them take the lead. Our life in dance classes for the older girls is probably at its end..we are not ballarinas..maybe the 2 little girls. But I will let time be the judge..not me. Can you comment to my blog again and tell me your Ravelry page. I can't get back there...

  2. Wow you're making me see this in a whole other light.
    I am like you and I would think it's a good thing - oh boy kids can teach us a lot.
    Today in fact, I'm just showing off my daughter's art work - so we're on the same page - kind off ;P

  3. Wow, what a thought-provoking post! I should file this away for when my six month and 2 year old are at the after-school activity stage. I'm such a 'doer' that I think I'd be in danger of getting over-enthusiastic about signing them up for everything. You've reminded me that children need to find their own way sometimes...

  4. oh it's so hard to resist the full schedule. but, as was the major pusher in homeschooling, children sitting on what they've learned instead of being shuffled off to next period is so important! soaking...thanks for the reminder.

  5. this post resonates with my own personal learning style, i appreciate that elizabeth is able to see this early on and voice this. good for you for hearing her voice!

  6. Wise mama! I heard this very thing from Zach... only at like age 2-3 when we experimented with preschool. "Why do we all have to draw pumpkins? I want to draw a ship! But we all have to do the same art work at school."
    Our little teachers are very wise indeed.

  7. Very smart to pick up and listen-- and good job on the truck, Finn!

  8. Wow can I relate! This is how Emily was with dance class. She loves to dance but wasnt interested in THEIR routines and THEIR music and THEIR costumes. After three years she stopped taking dance and was much happier! Right now, she LOVES art school but also loves to express her creativity in unstructured ways at home. :-)


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