Thursday, February 2, 2017

Creative Academy for Kids

I have a dream y'all.  I think it's pretty good, but it would take more than me to pull it off.  This dream is not about me, but about the future- all of our futures, because this dream centers on kids.

The Dream:
Do you craft?  If you do, I can only imagine what your space looks like... probably a lot like mine. Surfaces covered with paper, scissors, all sorts of markers, pens, paints- from oils to watercolors, and paintbrushes galore... do not even mention the sticker or ribbon collection.
I know I am not the only one.  Just go on Pinterest and type "Craft Space."  Have you ever really thought about how much money is stored in that space?  I know I have. We are so blessed.  I am so blessed to be able to have supplies to create whatever my heart desires. But not everyone does.... especially kids.

Nowadays kids are lucky to have a fine arts classroom in their elementary school.  In fact according to an older article (2012) from neaToday, "Nearly four million elementary school students do not get any visual arts instruction at school." Four million kids are missing out on their own artistic potential.  That's a big pill to swallow as I look at my craft room.

What if....

What if instead of a Crafting Convention, like Creativation, we creators, decided to give back instead of add one more thing to our already crammed craft room?  What if we artists created little "Invitations to Create" for kids...where kids get to create using whatever materials are laid out in front of them? No rules to follow- only their imagination.  Can you see it, this Creative Academy for Kids?

I do.

I see kids, parents, artists, and community members.  This event is hosted outdoors, where no one is freaking out if paint or clay lands on the ground.   I can feel the wind blow a nice warm breeze as kids move from table to table, or stations, creating their own masterpieces- experiencing all sorts of different mediums, as they try out new techniques they have never seen before.  Smiles spread on faces and parents hands are as messy as the kids. There's paint on clothes and no one is worried, because that artwork in that child's hand is priceless, and that shirt is $10 at Walmart.   In a clearing surrounded by trees, a station filled with all sorts of natural objects and pictures of Andy Goldsworthy artwork inspires hands to grab a hold of nature and create with her- an Invitation to Create kids can not pass up.

This.  This is the Creative Academy for Kids.

A day of giving and creating (or maybe a weekend! or even a week!). It's a day that artists, families, communities and kids can not wait for, a day they come together.   A date they mark on their future calendar as soon as this year's event is over.  They can not wait to experience it all over again.

That's my dream event....wouldn't it be beautiful?!  I am not sure how to make it happen, but I think a good place to start is here with Eventbrite.

Still not sold?

Read further to find out just a few of the benefits kids gain when being able to create arts and crafts.

In a technology drenched and test-driven world, where schools steadily drop funding for the arts (you can read about my first hand experience here), there has been a disconnect between creating and kids.  As a parent, if all you are told is how important reading, writing, and math are (and yes they are very important), you may begin to focus solely on those topics with your kids.  Although these are important, the arts are becoming lost, and there are so many benefits to creating arts and
crafts with children.

Benefits of Arts and Crafts with Kids:
  • Art inspires creativity.

Creativity is "the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships,or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc."  With the help of technology, our world is rapidly changing.  Children need to become creative individuals to be the innovators that our future is going to be in dire need of.
  • Art develops fine motor skills.

Have you ever thought of all the skills you use to write or cut a piece of paper?  What about putting a button through a hole? How you place your fingers on the handle of scissors, hold the piece of paper, slide the button through the hole, and the focus you have to be able to cut along the line, these are all fine motor skills.  It's our fine motor skills that help us in everyday tasks, from writing, to getting dressed we use these skills constantly.
  • Art encourages problem solving.

Art is open-ended.  There is no right or wrong way in art like there is in a math problem.  Jean at the Artful Parent says it beautifully, "Open-ended, process-oriented art is nothing but an endless opportunity for making choices, coming to conclusions, second-guessing decisions, and evaluating results. Children become more comfortable with uncertainty and remain flexible thinkers, which is key for creativity and confidence. And the more experience they have with a variety of materials and techniques, the more likely they are to try new combinations and ideas."  
  • Art builds community.

Much art is created for others to enjoy.  Think about how many times a child has given you their artwork.  Why do they give it to you?  Most likely, you smile and say "Thank you" or you might even tell the child what you like about their work or how it makes you feel.  "You just made my day!"  Art fosters community, relating to others, and being willing to give of oneself.

Art is a constant sacrifice.  When you create, you risk hearing people's opinions and critiques and lay yourself open at the mercy of someone else's judgement.  But we create anyway.  Why?  Because it is totally worth it!

For me, this dream is totally worth doing.  What are your thoughts?

Want to find out even more benefits? Check out these articles:

Washington Post article written by Lisa Phillips
PBS article
a well researched article titled Benefits of Arts to Kids by Raise Smart kids 

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