As a parent of a kindergartner and a teen, teaching my kiddos to get excited about being creative is a high priority. Maybe it has something to do with my day-job as an art teacher… Maybe it’s because we are wrapping up a long summer with too much time in front of one screen or another… Maybe it’s because I am trying to bring a new level of originality to my own daily life and work, of which parenting is a huge part.
MAYBE it’s because of this persistent anxiety I have, as a mom, that we spend too much time passively consuming what’s around us without ENGAGING life and interacting with it. What I do know is that I have to be intentional about teaching my children to be creative thinkers and…dare I say… a little sneaky with my intentions, or else I will get whining from one and a major eye-roll from the other. (I’m sure you can guess which is which, right?)
Here are 5 ideas you can use to motivate your child to enthusiastically create something:
Give it a Purpose
I can usually get my kids on board with making a card or picture for a family member’s birthday, or a friend who is ill. When we make something, whether its a craft or a recipe, we like to make extra and then think of people we can bless. Older children might be motivated to enter a contest or create something for their bedroom. Special occasions like holidays call for extra decorations around the house, and while my teen boy is not big on making Christmas tree garlands, he will get enthused about making posters or chalkboard art or computer-generated logo designs for College Game Day. Which leads us to..
Link it to Something High-Interest
My son has always been into sports teams–especially the Miami Dolphins! When he was little he began to watch NASCAR and would obsessively draw race cars and logos for sponsors. Now he is halfway through high-school and considering a career in graphic design. Pay attention to what your child is currently fixated on. Fire Engines? Pokemon? Fashion?Mermaids? Unicorns? (my personal favorite!) Do they watch a certain show obsessively? Are they into poetry? Use these things as prompts to get them drawing or creating. The things they are excited about should lead them right into…
Make it a Response
Did your child read a great book? See an amazing broadway production? Take a fun trip to the zoo or a foreign country? Did they bake a yummy dessert? Learn to ride a bike? (Or in my son’s case, drive a car–yikes!) Even just a simple walk around the neighborhood can supply plenty of excitement and inspiration. We are blessed to live very close to the beach and can find plenty of inspiration while jumping waves or hunting for shells. The key is to capitalize on their moment of enthusiasm and get them creating something while it is still fresh in their minds. Keeping an art journal, where they can write, paint, color, doodle, and draw about what they have seen, is one of the BEST creative habits you can begin with your children. And as far as art journals go…
Use an Object Lesson
Sometimes a simple, high-interest object is all it takes to get your child drawing. Have your child choose an object that is special to them, or I also recommend keeping a box or bin of unusual items that your child doesn’t normally have access to. This can be stuff from around the house or even items from the Dollar Store that you collect. They can use that as inspiration to draw in their journal or create an entire artwork. You might even get inspired, too, and want to join the fun, which leads me to my final suggestion…
Do it Together
You’ll have to be sensitive to whether or not your child is an extrovert or an introvert, but working together on a project is really fun and a great way to bond with your child and see the world through their eyes. Extroverted children are apt to be more engaged and excited about creating when someone else is enjoying the process alongside them. Try allowing your child to be the “art boss,” where they get to tell you what to add next to a painting. Invite them to help on a DIY project. It is important that your child sees you making time to create as well, and feels invited into the process.
Was this article helpful to you? What ways have you found to get your kiddos creating? I would LOVE to get your feedback in the comments section.