Raising creative children can seem like one more box to check off on the parenting to-do list. It’s tucked somewhere between making sure they have decent table manners and making it through the grocery store without having a major melt-down.
As a parent, I know it can be overwhelming to add one more item to that parenting to-do list, and raising creative kids can get placed on the back burner for a variety of reasons. Maybe you are uncertain as to how to go about providing creative opportunities for your children at home, or perhaps the idea of a “mess” that comes along with the combination of creativity and kids feels extremely overwhelming.
These fears are real. Overwhelm is real too, especially in our modern-day lives filled with the constant go-go-go. However, what if the key to combating that feeling of overwhelm was more creative time with your kids? More time to connect, take it slow, dive into a deeper conversation, and take a moment to help your child process all that keeps them busy?
Children of all ages, both special needs or not, often don’t have the language skills to express themselves, though they still have a voice. Expressive arts awaken a child’s imagination and creativity to help discover who they are and how to engage. It also brings a sense of calm to their body and positively impacts their mindset.
Here are 5 tips to embrace the mess and connect with your kids through creativity:
1. First things, first – Designate a Space.You could make art at your kitchen table, kitchen counter, on the floor, or you may even have an entire room dedicated to art-making. However you go about selecting a space in your home, do your best make it consistent. Having one location in your home where the art making happens creates natural guidelines for children and helps them learn your expectations of behavior and conduct.
Include your children in the process of what they want their art time to look like. Perhaps your child would like to include some calming music to play or they might like to diffuse a scented oil (don’t go crazy, but this helps set the tone). Helping choose a space and making choices about what is included in that space brings ownership to the process. Plus, having a designated space for your art making keeps your materials handy, cuts-down on the mess, and centralizes where the mess takes place.
2. Now, for the fun part – Select Your Supplies
Just like having a designated space for art-making having designated art supplies for that space is equally important. You can contain your supplies in a variety of ways according to your family’s needs and the available space. You can store your items in plastic storage boxes, on a moveable cart, or on a shelving unit.
3. Simplicity is Key – Keep Your Supplies, Projects, & Expectations Simple
With a mindset of keeping things simple you will find setting up art experiences for your children won’t require too much time, and won’t cause your children (or yourself!) to end up in tears either. Offering very specific supplies creates a structure for you and your children to work in, which will increase your children’s creativity and improve their focus by keeping overwhelm at bay. Keeping your overall supply cabinet limited to your favorite markers, crayons, watercolors, and paper can keep the art experiences less demanding, and simpler overall.
4. Schedule a Time of Day – Daily Practice
Any habit requires time invested. The more you do something the more of a habit it will become. Many parents find their first several art experiences with young children to be frustrating or chaotic. Children don’t wish to engage in the materials, or they engage for only a few moments before they are off and running. Providing consistent opportunities for your children to create helps build their stamina, introduces them to the materials, and provides a rhythm for them to know what to expect.
5. Allow Your Child to Lead – Follow Their Interests
Thinking about what your children find interesting can be the best guide as to what kinds of projects and art experiences to offer. Not sure what types of projects your child is interested in? Consider doing projects based on their favorite stories or books. Incorporating the story element helps to engage children deeper as they make connections and keep their focus on concepts shared in the story. Plus, following your children’s interests through stories provides even more opportunities for you to connect and create positive memories together!