Should you let them create?
...but after years in classrooms and years raising little boys, I've learned that sometimes the answer is actually NO. You see, there is fine line between teaching kids to create, allowing them full reign of their own creativity and stifling their ideas. I think the best way to handle this particular aspect of parenthood is to ride the fine line between the first two. It all depends on the project.
Teaching Kids to CreateThere is certainly an argument for allowing kids to create FULLY on their own (see my Quiet Time Kid Tins or simply walk through my backyard to see all the crazy creative things they come up with!) However, there is a time and space for actually TEACHING kids to create and fully directing their creative process. There is also a range of how involved the teacher vs. the student should be in the creative process. Today, I want to explore that range of intervention and what it does for children and their creative development.
#1 I want to teach them to visualize a good font, correct spacings and learn to use small coloring movements to stay within the line.
#2 I want beautiful toys to fill our spaces -- toys that invite creative play and give the children a sense of pride in helping, but toys that don't make me cringe everytime I look at them.
Creating toys and crafts with kiddos can be a chance to teach them to SEE what good design and art look like. It is not to diminish their creativity, but to give them a structure and frame of reference as they go out and create their own projects.
#3 OK, so I have one more reason :) This particular project is also a project that I created for Crafts Unleashed, using supplies from Consumer Crafts and the end result must look good to publish. I am able to create dress up clothing for the boys, invite imaginative play, complete my work and make a little income off the project. It is a win-win-win around the board, but not if I let the kids go haywire on the materials.
How did I intervene? This project was completed by creating a font template in the silhouette studio, cutting out the stencil on the machine, tracing the letters, then filling them in with Sharpie. The kids were able to choose the colors based on the culinary professions (farmer is green!) and they also helped color in the letters. I did all the tracing and supervised the coloring heavily. Basically the project was 80% mommy, 20% kids. Once the project is complete, the kids keep the chef hats and aprons in their grocery store downstairs and play with them however they choose. 100% kid creativity -- 0% mom intervention.
One more note: The older the kiddo is, the more they get to do. My 7 year old was able to color in the letters almost fully by himself without bleeding beyond the lines, while the 3 year old needed me to actually hold the marker with him.
I did the shopping, the spray painting, the collecting of materials, etc. The kids do ALL the creating once the tins and materials are in their hands. I could let the kids do the spray painting and collecting of materials, but then the collection of tins would look icky and wouldn't be cute displayed on the shelves in our living room. By splitting up where I intervene and how, I am able to create crafts that look good, can stay out in the "public" eye, yet still encourage creativity in the kiddos.