When I was a little girl, it didn’t take me or my family long to realize creativity flowed through my blood.
It streams in my mother’s blood as well. So, it came as no surprise that I ended up with a creative daughter. It was inevitable to be honest. Creativity is a family trait.
What I didn’t realize was how creative God actually made her.
Her creativity is 100x more poignant and ingenious than mine ever has been. I am inspired by her daily.
Today she created a beautiful painting of abstract shapes and bright colors, while listening to classical music.
She said “Mommy, artists listen to music, probably classical music, when they paint. Then they paint what they feel and see. That is what I am going to do.”
Sure enough, her painting was abstract. It still looked like a 5-year-old painted it, but it was colorful. Her painting displayed happiness, calm, peace. That is what I saw when I looked at it. It is what I see when I look at her. Unless, she is in the middle of one of her tantrums. Then I just see exasperation and disarray.
But I digress.
When I started home schooling Kindergarten with B this year, I knew what I was getting myself into, to a degree.
B loves to create. Every morning she goes to her school desk and spends a chunk of time creating whatever she sees in her mind. A couple of things she created this week were a paper kite and paper Easter baskets, with eggs to hide. She didn’t draw the basket. She made the basket 3D so the eggs could actually fit inside.
She loves to get messy. Paint, play doh, kinetic sand, slim, whatever she can get her hands on. Any type of material that will allow her to create something, anything.
B also grows bored with paper work and repetitiveness. She loves to be challenged, but she dislikes having to sit still, staring at a piece of paper. This became evident early on when she would doodle all over her paper work. She will draw faces on the letters, bodies on the numbers, and pictures in between the words.
I am in no way an expert when it comes to home schooling my children.
I am a newbie. However, I have learned a few tips this year and I want to share them with you. If you are home schooling a creative child, your day may look slightly different than expected. That is okay. Isn’t that one of the points of home school? So we can tailor our child’s education to fit what works for them? Children are not carbon copies of one another. They do not all fit nicely inside of a box. Every child learns differently.
My child, I have learned, learns differently than her 3-year-old cousin. Her cousin likes things laid out for her. She enjoys doing paper work. B learns by doing and experiencing. Much like me. Her cousin has a photographic memory. She learns by being told something. A lot like her father. That is okay. Each learning style is okay.
Here are four tips I have learned for home schooling your creative child.
1.Carve out time to allow your child to be creative.
Creativity can strike at any time. Any creative person knows this. Inspiration typically hits my daughter first thing in the morning. She will come running downstairs and ecstatically say “Mommy I am going to make (insert whatever her little mind has come up with for the day).” At first I would try to check off a list of “to-do’s” before I allowed her to delve into her inventive whims.
At first it was:
Okay- now you can be creative.
She pushed back. She lost her excitement and inspiration during all the “have to’s”, which led to not being able to focus in school.
So now the have-tos are get dressed and make bed. I typically allow her to make something, color, etc. while she is eating breakfast. Sometimes these creative whims last up to 2 hrs. Other times they are only 15 minutes. Once her creativity is satisfied, she is able to focus on her school work better. Sure this meant I had to let go of control of a “scheduled” time and go with the flow more. This was difficult for me, but I do it. I do it because I do not want my little girl to become burnt out so much on “formal schooling” that she stops wanting to be creative.
Children learn all the time. Not just while doing “formal paper work.” My daughter may learn more in the day by what she is creating, then what the paper work has to offer. When an idea pops into her head, she begins to ask questions, usually learning something new in the process. I don’t want to get in the way of the gifts the Lord has given her.
Right now she says she wants to grow up and be an artist. I can see it. If it is the path she chooses, I want her to be able to cultivate that love for all types of art and creating now.
2. Patience. Patience. Patience.
Last week B and I had a particularly hard day during her school lesson. Even though she had plenty of time to create that morning, she was still not focused. She dislikes the “reading” portion of our lessons. It has less to do with her love of reading (because trust me she loves books and reading) and more to do with how her creative muscles are not being flexed during this time. After about 15 minutes of “I’m bored, I don’t want to do this, I want to do something else” I grew aggravated. I calmly had B go to her room for around 10 minutes, so we could both have a breather. After this time, I felt calmer and more patient. She was ready to focus. We delved back into the reading lesson with some twerks that Mommy came up with. I’ll explain those later.
Patience is not something I would suggest praying for. Every time I have ever prayed for patience the Lord gives me something that day to test my patience to the limit. However, patience is something we need to build up in our character. If you are lacking patience these days, especially with your home schooler, I suggest stopping the lesson. Allow your home schooler to refocus. Allow yourself a cup of coffee. Or send them to their room so you can eat the hidden chocolate while regrouping.
I have learned this year, there is nothing during school lessons, that are worth losing your cool over and tearing down your kid’s progress in the process. Sometimes, something doesn’t click right away. That is okay. Go back to it the next day. Or the next week. Don’t force it. Be patient with yourself and your child. Trust me, they will figure out how to add and read, because they have a loving parent who is devoting time to teach them. That is all they need to succeed.
3. Break up the lesson, into short increments.
This one was difficult for me. I like to tackle school in one big chunk so that we can be done. However, I know that this is not realistic. Not for a five-year-old. We use My Father’s World. One reason I was drawn to My Father’s World was because of the short lessons. They are to the point. I also love that it implements Charlotte Mason into their curriculum. If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you know that I love Charlotte Mason and everything she stood for in the education world. One piece of advice she advocated was breaking the lessons up into small sections. Children have short attention spans. They can focus for a small amount of time. She suggests tackling the lesson and if your child seems to be getting antsy, cut it short. Move one to something else. Go outside and play. Not everything has to be formal school. If you don’t get the lesson done it is not the end of the world. I cannot tell you how many times I have skipped something that was in the lesson for the day, because the kiddos were getting so restless. It is not the end of the world. I doubt the kids will care. Their education will not suffer. The only one who frets over it is you. So take a deep breath and remind yourself, if your kid is restless, a break may be a good idea, and it is not the end of the world if you don’t get through the entire lesson.
4. If it is not working for your child, find a different way.
I wrote about our hard day last week earlier in this post. When I sent B to her room to focus I reminded myself that if something isn’t working for your child, find a different way. Well, sitting and staring at a paper, trying to sound out words was not working. She hated it. So I thought to myself, what does B like to do? She likes to make her papers pretty and she likes a challenge. When she came downstairs I told her we were going to make this reading page into a game. First, if she reads the word correctly she gets to put a sticker next to the word. Secondly, we were going to set the timer. If she tried as hard as she could, and finished the paper before the timer ran out, she won. Winners got a sucker. She loved this idea. She applied herself and ended up getting a sucker.
It was the same old paper. With a different way of doing it. Sometimes you have to think outside of the box. Curriculum’s are nice. Having it laid out for you is a godsend. However, sometimes that specific way won’t work for a child. That is when you need to take a step back, look at what does work for your child, and try it a different way. This is especially true for the creative child. The child who would much rather be flexing their creative muscles than finishing paperwork.
I know that in school you have to do the hard stuff.
However, I want to cultivate a love of learning in my children. I want them to want to continue learning their entire lives. I want my children to look back on their education as a child with fondness, not with angst because they didn’t enjoy learning. If you have a creative child, a child who may be a challenge to home school, remember that it is possible to give them the education you desire. It is also most definitely worth it.