Elementary School Artists
Does your 8 year old play as freely as she did when she was younger? Your child's natural creative expression may give way to a broader focus on homework, sports, friends, and clubs like scouting as she gets older. If you want to keep your child engaged in imagination, creativity, and the arts, here are some suggestions:
- Have a place where your child can create — a place that may get messy at times.
- Give him plenty of ammunition: old fabrics and blankets; "can't-make-a-mistake" musical noisemakers like tambourines and maracas; paint supplies, including chalkboard paint or spray paint that makes textures; colored light bulbs; magazines and secondhand books to tear up; food to cook.
- Have your child walk around his environment and "shop" for still-life items and elements for compositions.
- Teach your child how to really look at things. Shooting pictures through the car window with a disposable or digital camera is fun. Tell your child to shoot with no preconceived notions, and see what she comes up with. On vacation, give each family member his own camera. Your child can create an album or collage from her finished pictures. See how her interests shine through.
- When a camera's not handy, show your child how to use a "finger camera" to frame details you see in everyday life: signs, gargoyles on buildings, a pot of flowers, a dog walking by. Art is everywhere.
- Encourage your child's unique focus. Talk to him about winning, losing, and fighting the cultural norms of biggest, best, and most popular. Remind your child that innovations come from thinking outside the lines. Let him know that process and doing can be its own reward.
- Allow your child to figure things out for himself: what to order at the bakery counter, how to work out an argument with a friend, what to wear on Halloween, where to go and what to see on a family trip. Show her that her decisions and opinions are important. Creative thinking is a great survival skill.
- Travel with your child. Show him new places and things, even if it's just a trip to another town. Point out that there are many ways of doing things.
- Play music in your home. Borrow CDs from the library to broaden your scope, choosing unusual genres just for fun.
- When it's gift-giving time, encourage your child to make something: cook a meal; bake cupcakes; perform a comedy sketch, poem, or song; plant daffodils in Nana's yard.
- Give your child a Dream Diary to keep by her bedside. Writing down dreams can be the basis of a future story or painting, or just a record of what's on her mind.
- Encourage a nervous child to make a "safe place" in miniature, in a little box (like a jewelry or match box) small enough to carry in a pocket. Your child can draw a restful scene inside the box, or glue in a few favorite little things.
- Give your child a sketch book and a pencil with an eraser, so he can capture anything that catches his eye.