Keeping Kids and Ourselves Creative is so Important in Challenging Times

Creativity Picture

When the news is all gloom and doom it is easy to give up and think ‘whats the point’ but I feel that now is the time to be extra creative, what ever that means to you.

I was very lucky to be brought up in a very creative household. My father is a painter and one of my earliest memories is watching him mix paints in his attic. I particularly remember the way the light shone through the skylight, I remember being distracted by the dust floating in the air and I remember sitting there for a long long time whilst he painted, often in silence. He would lie his canvasses on the floor and would make energetic sweeps across the paintings. His gift for colour is incredible and maybe those years of sitting with him taught me how to use colour. I am only conscious of that now as a forty five year old. But it was a huge gift watching him being creative and putting all his passion into his paintings. He has been painting these huge incredible paintings his whole life.  I was given the gift of being able to honour creativity and hold it in a high place by him. There have been times when I have struggled to value myself as a creative but as I think about it now it was a huge gift that he gave me, as I sat there for those years watching him work with such focus commitment and love for his work and in turn I am learning to love my work and my books. So much so that I have just unashamedly plugged them. 

 

My mother was always creative but I think that she hid it more than my Dad did. I remember her being creative in the kitchen and as she has become older she has taken up painting and making things, she is a brilliant maker and has turned into a wonderful painter, these talents were always there but only seem to have come out of her in the last fifteen years.

 

Children are innately creative. If you let them be all they do a lot of the time is create. Creativity is everywhere. Not only in art, drama and music but it is in maths science engineering, to be alive is to be creative and in this process of unschooling I think creativity is the key. To embrace it and to run what whatever comes up. I cannot always keep up with the creative demands in our household. If I was just to spend the day absolutely following the creative ideas of the kids it would have lead my to buying an animation suite, a sewing machine, new paints, three brand new up to speed lap tops, fulfilling the dream of having a music room, buying a potters wheel, obtaining a full electronics kit and keeping it updated regularly. Getting a stand up piano, exploding many watermelons with string, jumping in a coke filled swimming pool whilst being strapped in to a Mentos suit, the list is endless… All of these things have been requested over time and we can only live within our means but this is an example of constant creativity, it is all linked with playing and being curious and it is a bountiful, beautiful and endless stream of life and curiosity flowing through our kids. I think to be human is to be creative and that essentially all people are creative beings, I don’t know what happens as to why it gets drummed out of us. But I think if you look at your life and what you actually do there is a lot more creativity going on than people may realize. Staying open and creative is a beautiful thing and I see it in children all the time, they constantly create things, from seemingly nothing. It is this gift that I hope that the kids will carry with them into their adult years. So I have compiled a list below for those who want to jump in a doing something creative.

 

Fun things to Try

 

  • Can you buy a huge piece of paper for your children to lie down on? Then get your kids to lie down and draw around their bodies. You can also lie down and get them to draw around you! Fill in these templates.

 

  • There are endless ways to fill these templates. I will give you three.
  • With paint colours, pens, pencils, just have fun colouring your body.
  • With words for example around the heart, how you are feeling? The mind, what is going on in your mind? The hands what do you tend to spend you time doing with your hands?
  • Get a pile of magazines, or news paper or patterned paper and fill in like a collage. I did this with the kids with the whole family. We made a life sized collage of our family, it can be great fun.

 

 

  • Getting creative with anger or frustrations Rip it up and start again!

 

  • Get your child to paint how they are feeling, great, if they are frustrated or angry.
  • Use paints, colours, pencils etc
  • Let it dry.
  • Let them RIP IT UP!
  • Stick it back together on a piece of paper, it is great to put calm music on during the latter half of this exercise. This can be great for shifting a frustration. Good for adults too!

 

  • Once a week get creative around how you eat. Make your eating space an area to feast in. Candles, flowers, tablecloths, hang lovely things made out of paper from the ceiling, even if there is no specific reason to celebrate, celebrate! We are alive and that is a marvelous thing! Can you bring more celebration and creative rituals like this into your lives?

 

 

  • Get Creative with clothes

 

  • Cut them into squares and make a quilt, a loose one that has all the memories of the clothes intertwined in it. When your friend visit can you get them to add a square, so that over the years the quilt will grow.
  • Do you have a white t.shirt? Get a spray bottle (the ones you use with one hand) and fill it with watered down acrylic paint. One strong colour. Put a piece of cardboard inside the t.shirt. Find a beautifully shaped leaf. Place the leaf on the t.shirt. spray on top of the leaf. Carefully remove the leaf. Leave the t.shirt with its new design to dry.

 

 

  • Doing it like Jackson

 

  • Get a roll of long paper and lots of different coloured paints. House paints are good! Show you child a video of Jackson Pollock painting, step back and let  your child (join in and play and do your best to not try and control the situation) Let it dry. You can use canvas as well and then put it on a frame and sell it for a fortune!!!

 

 

  • Let your kid cook

 

  • Let them chose the recipe
  • Let them go with you to buy the ingredients, even if nothing makes sense. Just let your child lead.
  • Stand by to assist if they need you.

 

 

  • Play music

 

  • Even if you technically can’t play, perhaps you can drum a bit, or tinker on the piano, or shake a jar that is full of pop corn. Start jamming and see what happens. If nothing happens that is also ok. You may find you start an hour long jamming session from out of nowhere…

 

I hope that these exercises have sparked some creativity for you or for your child.

 

I think that like Ken Robinson says ‘All children start their school careers with sparkling imaginations, fertile minds, and a willingness to take risks with what they think.’ So I think our jobs, as parents, teachers, humans is to keep uplifted as best we can and nurture those creative talents .

Right am off to find my Mentos suit…

 

(This is an exert from Unschooling the Kids, our upcoming book)

 

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About the Author

Lehla is an illustrator and an author of books, she has written for The Guardian. She trained as an actress at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She wrote The South African Illustrated Cookbook, The Lovely Book for Wonderful Women and she illustrated a kid’s book by M.J. Amani called ‘Excuse Me, I’m Trying to Read’ and also ‘I am Me, You, Us and We’ by Caroline Trowbridge. Above all she is a mother to three fast growing kids, she juggles her time between them and working on new books and projects. She has recently co authored with Anthony ‘Jump’, Fall, Fly – from schooling, to homeschooling, to unschooling’ Her art work can be seen at http://lehlaeldridge.wix.com/lehla-

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