When you think about teaching healthy eating to young children, people emphasize modeling good nutrition by letting them see you eat healthy foods. If you want your child to love literacy, they should see you writing store lists and reading novels. If we want to raise children rich in creative ideas and skilled with self-expression, parents need to model that too.
Too often when parents want to expose their child to arts and creativity, they search Pinterest for a craft or how to make scented salt dough. They place the materials in front of the child or work together on the craft, which is fine, but it shouldn’t end there. Children also need to see the adults in their lives living creatively. You can fingerpaint with them, but they also need to see you get out your brushes or sheets of music, so they can see the role the arts play in your life.
If all we do in front of our kids is work emails and cooking dinner, they might get the impression that adult life is just work and drudgery. We need to model a richer, more well-rounded life for our kids. If we tap into the things we used to do and try some new things we’ve always wanted to try, it will create a powerful vision for our kids of work/life balance and a deeper kind of self-care.
You may feel like you aren’t skilled enough to teach your kids about art. Keep in mind, we aren’t asking you to be their piano instructor or lead a sculpture class. Your creative pursuits are part of the bigger picture. The lesson isn’t in the artwork itself. It’s an example of a life well lived. You will explore your creative self in front of your children who are always watching and learning.
If you have always wanted to make something out of wood and you get supplies from Lowes and build a birdhouse from a website tutorial, your child gets to see your first imperfect attempt. They see you aren’t afraid to try something new. You can model a growth mindset while your work unfolds.
If you have mistakes, those are just opportunities to learn. Even grown-ups need to practice before they get good at something. An attitude of life-long learning is a priceless attribute to pass on to your kids.
All humans start off with an urge to create things and try out different kinds of self expression. If you haven’t had luck finding creative hobbies in the past or had some negative experiences, right now is the perfect time to try again. If you have always wanted to learn how to draw or thought about starting a garden, do some research and take baby steps in a more creative direction.
When you start using your creative muscles, try not to worry about creating a perfect product. It will get easier. Mistakes are part of the learning process. Your creative journey will be a great lesson for your kids as you start to explore this part of yourself which may have been neglected for a while.
It’s as easy as sharing your favorite songs with your children. On long car rides, I share my favorite Broadway musical soundtracks with my kids because that feeds my soul. You can sing and dance along with music when the feeling takes you.
Music makes our lives richer and it’s good for kids to see everyday people singing and dancing. It might even make them feel less self-conscious when they get to their high school prom.
If you know how to play an instrument, make time to take the violin out of the closet and let your kids see you make music. If you sit down to play piano, there will be an interested child next to you wanting to play along. Maybe the next day you will hear them writing their own songs while you are washing up the dishes.
One of the simplest ways to show you are a life-long learner is to sign up for a class. Think of something you’ve always wanted to try and there is probably a class for it. If you don’t want a long-term commitment, look at community education classes or offerings from a local art organization.
When the kids see you head out the door for a Tuesday night ballet class or a Saturday knitting workshop, they will know you have a life outside of parenting. They will see that fun is on your calendar and it’s worth making the time for personal interests. It’s a wonderful model of self-care and life balance.
Don’t have time for a class? You can buy a starter paint set and just start learning on your own. If you’ve ever tried a wine and paint night and thought you wanted to learn more, there are many free YouTube tutorials on the basics of all types of painting – watercolors, acrylics and oils. They explain the basic supplies you need and you can learn new techniques in just a short video. Your kids can use their washable paints beside you. You can check out some books about painting from the library to get more ideas and that’s a great example for your kids to see.
If plants and flowers are calling to you, you can design a new rock garden or flower box. Maybe you want to refinish a piece of furniture or redesign the color scheme of the living room. These are all creative pursuits! You can model creativity for kids as you plan and sketch your ideas. Let your child see your thinking about balancing shapes and forms or ideas around color. Take them with you as you shop for supplies and bring your ideas to fruition.
Did you love writing stories or poems in your high school notebooks? Have you always wanted to keep a journal? Writing can be a creative outlet and it’s fun to involve your kids in your creativity with your writing projects.
The other night at dinner, I told the kids about a fiction story I am working on and the sticky problem with the plot I am having trouble solving. They were so thrilled by the idea that Mom had a story and had dozens of ideas for how the action should end. It brings home the idea that books and stories are written by real people using their imaginations. I also blog and my 7-year-old daughter reads every one of my posts. She likes the idea that my writing goes on the real internet.
Modeling a love of stories and words benefits your children’s literacy development. Even if you just share your thrill at getting the new book from your favorite author, it models a love of literacy.
Think about the types of creative outlets you had as a child. What hobbies did you love before you had kids and had more free time? Think about what kinds of hobbies you have always wanted to try. Trying something new is a great way to model creativity for kids. If you’d like to explore your interests further, here’s a free PDF workbook for you to try.
When you create things where kids can watch, they realize furniture doesn’t have to be made in a factory. They see you can design your own fashions or make food that’s also art. It opens up their minds to ways they want to be creative. Before long, instead of begging to play video games, they will ask to try some creative dreams themselves.
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