Creativity in Your Homeschool

Written by contributor Renee Tougas of FIMBY

Creativity is a dominant theme in our homeschool and is one of our family values. Earlier this winter I wrote about my creative philosophy and shared the story of my own blossoming in this area.

I didn’t grow up thinking I was creative and I am not an artist in the traditional sense.

But watching my children grow and appreciating their creative enthusiasm has taught me that we all have the capacity to create.

I’d like to share with you some practical tips to encourage creativity in your homeschool.

Discover Your Own Creativity

It was my children’s innate curiosity and creativity that awakened my own creative awareness.

It started slowly with recognizing some of my hobbies and tasks as creative endeavors – gardening and cooking for example. Once I cracked open the door to my “inner artist” I wanted to explore and discover more. This has been an exciting journey for me.

Photo by Renee Tougas

It’s also fun to pursue creative interests together.

A couple of years ago when I first started to knit I included my children (then six, eight, and nine) in that learning process. We all “cast on” together and it became our main winter creative activity. I really enjoyed spending time with my kids doing something we all thought was fun and interesting.

Encourage Gifts

Each of us is gifted in such unique and wonderful ways. Look for creative gifts in your children and name them as you see them developing.

Call your children photographers, artists, writers, musicians, sewists, knitters, lego builders etc… Honor who they are right now, at this moment in their development.

Get them plugged into good resources as their skill grows. If your child shows an aptitude in a creative art consider enrolling them in a class to develop their craft.

Your Family is Unique

Don’t compare your family’s (or your individual) creative pursuits to another family.

Some people love to bake. Others do theater together. Some build Lego. Others enjoy nature. And some do lots of arts and crafts. All of these are creative.

Find your family’s own groove and enjoy that. Celebrate your unique talents and interests.

Photo by Renee Tougas

Stock the Shelves

Keep it simple with little ones. Basic craft supplies, the kitchen cupboards (to make play dough), and access to your own creative supplies and tools – if you knit, scrapbook, sew, or garden – is all you need.

You can slowly add to that basic stash by following your children’s interests as they discover new crafts and activities.

Jessica at Life as Mom had this clever idea for a Summer Survival Kit – Crafts & Activities that can be applied to anytime of the year.

And don’t hoard the “good stuff” from your budding artisans/crafters/creative little people. It’s wise to ration supplies for young children who lack self-control. But as your children grow and especially if they show skill in a particular craft make sure to invest in their education and buy quality supplies.

Photo by Renee Tougas

Accept the Mess

Without a doubt dealing with mess is the most difficult part for me of having a creative home.

I want life neat, orderly, and organized. I’ve learned there is a place for this in the creative process, but the act of creating is necessarily messy.

Not only do I need to accept the mess of paper scraps, paint-splattered newspaper, and cluttered kitchen counters, I need to encourage my children and myself that it’s ok to make a mess.

A mess can be cleaned up.

Our family’s routine is to tidy bits and pieces of the day’s creativity as we go. Then before supper the whole living room, which is also our learning and main crafting area, gets a thorough clean up and vacuum. Works in progress are set aside in designated spots and the creative work starts afresh the next day.

Photo by Renee Tougas

Don’t let your hang ups about a “perfect” house discourage creativity.

Make Time

When my kiddos were little we did a craft once a week or so.  Now crafting is one of the activities they choose to do on their own most everyday. My job is to make sure I don’t over-schedule the days so they have time to pursue these interests.

If your family isn’t as interested in arts and crafts but you want to include more in your homeschool experience tie it in with your studies.

Last fall we read about the history of the printing press. Along with what we read about paper making and tried it for ourselves (talk about messy).

Resources

1. Books:

There are many children’s craft books.

On our library visits I regularly pick up random arts and crafts books to inspire our creativity. We don’t usually do the activities exactly as laid out in the books, and often improvise materials, but the ideas get us going.

A few specific book suggestions:

2. The Internet:

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what’s on the web. Please contribute your own ideas in comments.

3. Your Community:

Connect with local artisans and crafters and take advantage of what they offer.

Photo by Renee Tougas, Mosaic by Carrie Bracker

Our family has been inspired by watching glass artists, potters, and weavers. After seeing these artisans at work our children have wanted to try (who wouldn’t?) and when possible we’ve arranged for instruction.

Community resources might be advertised on library bulletin boards, in the art department at a local college, in the “arts and lifestyle” section of the newspaper, and at natural living fairs.

What are your suggestions for encouraging creativity in your homeschool? What books or websites do you recommend? Links to your blog are welcome!

About Renee

Renee is a creative homemaker and homeschooling mama of three. She loves to write, take pretty photos, and be in nature with her family. Her mission is to nourish, encourage, and teach; build relationship and create beauty. FIMBY is where she tells that story. Drawing from her years of experience and training, Renee also offers individual and personalized Homeschool Coaching.

Comments

  1. I encourage it by letting them enjoy the process, and not worrying about how it turns out. If they want the sky pink, then fine! If they are gluing things upside down, fine! This kind of freedom when they’re young really does encourage them to be bold with their art later on!
    Angela @ Homegrown Mom’s latest post: When the Spirit Doesn’t Thrill You

  2. Funny–I just wrote about children’s art-themed books yesterday; I’ll link to it at the bottom of my comment.

    I’m not technically homeschooling yet, but I’m hoping with all my might to move towards that for next year. Right now my kids are 2 1/2 and 4 1/2, and I do a lot of what you mentioned. Even though they are so young, my children have unlimited, all-day access to the basic art supplies on the art counter (crayons, colored pencils, dot-makers, scissors, stickers, and paper). The messier things (clay, playdough, paint, stamp pads, and so on) are kept in cupboards, but I try my best to allow them to use them whenever their requests are feasible.

    Since I also value creativity as a core component of my children’s learning (perhaps even the most valuable component), I spend a lot of time thinking about these things and trying my hardest to create a home that nurtures their creativity.
    Two Chicks and a Hen’s latest post: Book Talk- Art-themed Childrens Books

  3. Fantastic post as always Renee. The thing I have to keep remembering is:
    “Don’t compare your family’s (or your individual) creative pursuits to another family.”
    I think in this day and age, especially with so many of us reading blogs, surfing the internet, accessing other people’s lives (or what the present of them) it is easier to get hung up on the good/right/nicest way to do things, and family creativity is one of them. Be inspired, not intimidated!
    Natalia’s latest post: Kindles are not a tool of Satan

  4. Lovely ideas! Creativity is a state of mind! My children are wonderfully creative, but they are creative in very different ways.

    When I buy new art & craft materials, we usually try them out together and agree on the best way to use them, care for and store the material and products. Then I am happy to make them freely available and they can use it anytime they wish. We also have a few “mess” rules and they must clean up after they are finished. Even the worst mess is fun to clean up together with a song!
    Nadene’s latest post: Just this 1 Thing!

  5. Wonderful post, Renee!! I so agree that in order to embrace a creative lifestyle you have to let go of “perfect” and allow messes…knowing that that can and will be cleaned up. And you are so right about not over-scheduling…busyness steals creativity; it always seems to be the first thing to go! I often have other moms ask me how I get so much done with creative pursuits whether sewing, crafting or cooking…usually my first answer is “I stay home”. It really does take a stay-at-your-home-most-of-the-time mindset to pursue creativity regularly.
    Aimee’s latest post: Rebooting Homeschooling

  6. Shelley R. says:

    I am more of a performing creative than one who uses materials. Thus, the area of creativity in the visual arts has been more difficult for me to cultivate in our home. This post reminds me (of something I’m mostly already aware of) that surrounding our children with creative options will enable me (as the parent) to observe their own unique gifts in the area of the arts. I’ve been reluctant to provide good art supplies when the kids have excelled in a newly discovered medium. But my reasoning is gratefully challenged here, and I’m encouraged to invest the finances required, to seek any left-over materials from my artist friends, and support whatever creative buds are trying to open in the minds of my kids! Thanks!

  7. A few things I believe have encouraged creativity in my home: actually have supplies on hand and don’t be afraid to let kids use them! I like order but creativity is messy. If the house is in general order, though, then a big painting, card-making, playdough, sewing project doesn’t freak me out b/c I know everything has a place to be put back to; keep some nice supplies out – we have a wooden tray on a coffee table with glass jars holding various art medium as well as a few art journals. When I’m reading aloud or a child is looking for something to do, this attractive tray draws them; value their creations – we have children’s art throughout the house on display, some framed, some strung on raffia with laundry pegs, etc. My kids make doll clothes and jewlery and use it themselves and give it as gifts. It is not shoved in a box somewhere; Finally, we encourage creativity by budgeting for it. Art supplies, the occasional class, instruments and lessons, etc. all cost and we are willing to invest in this and make sacrifices in other areas. We’ve used various books and visited museums and so forth but honestly none of these things compare to actually providing the supplies and atmosphere to create. Oh, ok, one more thing comes to mind: it is fun, when children are younger to expose them to various artists, medium, and so forth. But at a certain point, when they begin to express their preferences I think it is best to listen to them and allow them to pursue their specific passions and support them in this rather than trying to force them into a certain mold which can have the effect of killing their creative interests all together.

  8. Creativity is so important! It might not seem like it but it helps your kids develop skills they will use for a lifetime whether it’s the action of letting go so they can let their creative side take over or even just being able to express their feelings non-verbally. These are all abilities that can be harder for adults to achieve, so learning them earlier is always better.
    I also think the suggestion of connecting with local artisans is great. I am a potter and part of our city’s pottery group. This group is a great resource for classes, cool events to view art, and even possible teachers to help if you need one-on-one instruction. I have been pleasantly surprised by how much potters love to share their knowledge with one another and would hope that’s commonplace with most artists.
    AprilS’s latest post: Determining Whether a Trig Function is Odd- Even- or Neither

  9. What a great post. I am mulling over “don’t hoard the good stuff.” I did that just yesterday with paper I had bought for pastels and which they wanted to use for something I thought scratch paper would be fine for. It is all a matter of crafty opinion, isn’t it?

  10. What a great post! My four year old and two year old color or “write” on their own almost every day, but I do try to get a little more intentional in the craft department at least once a week, even if that means just letting them splurge and dig through my special scrapbook papers for their own projects. I love to see their minds at work making their very own creations!
    Naomi’s latest post: Reality Check

  11. Your words about developing yourSELF as an artist really resonated with me. I used to scrapbook, but lack the space now, so I do some digitally … what I lose with that is the visibility of the process as far as my kids as an audience are concerned. They do love poring over the scrapbooks I’ve made, though.

    I know I do need to show more creativity, if only to inspire them … often I get them started with an art project and just walk away to work in the kitchen, etc. Sometimes they run with it, but sometimes it works a lot better if I sit there with them, joining in with the painting, sculpting, etc.

    One little thing I do with my daughters is to give them the craft store sale flyers that come in the mail and let them circle whatever they want. No, we can’t buy it all, but I like to think it gets the creative juices flowing (I DON’T do this with toy catalogs!)

    Also, I hire a 13-y.o. mother’s helper a couple times a month who LOVES crafting. She brings stuff over and just sits for two hours and makes things with the kids. I think she’s a great inspiration for them (and I’m often scrapbooking in the other room).
    Hannah’s latest post: Allowances- How We Do It

  12. Wonderful advice! I especially agree about investing in good materials and accepting the messes.

    I would also recommend Mary Ann Kohl’s art books. She has wonderful books of projects that tie creative art ideas into world cultures, math, science and just plain fun. They’re at most libraries and a few of the titles are on my wish list for next Christmas because they’re so good I always wrack up fines keeping them too long. :)
    Alicia’s latest post: Eating out with kids- How to make it fun for everyone

  13. Very good post. Thank you!!

  14. Hi Renee
    Children are so creative and inspired and work from such an unconscious level that we seem to block as adults. I love creative spirit and write about it on my blog and in my books on artistic process on http://www.lynemarshall.com.au and http://www.artclique.com.au
    Lyne Marshall’s latest post: Finding the right combination

  15. We are a creative family and we love it, but sometimes we have to reign it in! LOL
    Great post and great ideas!
    Tamara
    Tamara Briggs’s latest post: Track 2011

  16. Renee, what a beautiful post, a post I wish I’d written! Gorgeous photos and such pleasant thoughts. Sprite and I have enjoyed doing art side by side. Creating together creates a special bond.
    Jimmie’s latest post: Seven Sneaky Ways to Give Your Kids Writing Practice

  17. This is an excellent post, Renee. This is truly helpful for parents thinking of developing their child’s creativity. It teaches the importance of parental support for children to be able to properly express themselves through arts and crafts. Thanks for sharing this and keep on posting.
    John Briner’s latest post: American Gothic by Grant Wood

  18. Hi great site/I love some of the comments/it is with great interest
    that I having been reading the posts here. I create websites with a
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