“The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” – Henry David Thoreau
Ah, to be a child again. Remember those days when a pair of gloves and that old bedsheet magically transformed you into a superhero? Maybe your grandmother’s nightgown was the perfect princess dress. I always felt like I was full of magical powers when I was a child. It’s strange how it feels like just one day those magic powers ceased inside of me and I suddenly became an adult, right in front of my own eyes!
Now that I’m a mom I frequently get hit with waves of nostalgia when my daughter pulls out the imagination card. It feels so great to go back to a mindset where anything is possible because our imaginations haven’t yet been altered by society, stress and grown up responsibilities. When she scribbles out a bunch of odd shaped circles and lines and excitedly calls me over to share this once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about what she has created and brought to life with a simple dry erase marker. I feel so proud of her and her creative expression but before I can blink, she’s erased her masterpiece and is hard at work creating another one, not caring that the previous piece of art is gone forever. In her mind she has forever to create more masterpieces and at that very moment the one she’s currently working on is the most important task in the world for her.
The feel of a paintbrush between those little fingers is exciting, modeling clay twisted up and rolled into balls is a beautiful sculpture, handfuls of glitter is magic dust and a sheet of stickers is her winning lottery ticket to her very own story town. You child lives in the moment. For your child, in that moment of creativity the possibilities are endless and there is nothing more important than what she is creating right then and there.
There is so much more than scribbling involved with your child’s artwork. Let’s examine what’s happening inside your child’s brain as he excitedly scribbles that new work of art or builds his 500th fort out of LEGOS.
The human brain consists of 2 parts, the left and the right hemisphere. The left brain is used in logical thinking and analytical processes, consisting of math, reading and science. The right brain is used in emotional perception, intuition and creativity. It is the right brain that is mainly used when a person is involved in creative endeavors such as making art.
For the brain to be efficient, the two hemispheres of the brains must work together. By stimulating and exercising the right hemisphere of the brain, the arts strengthen the connection between the hemispheres. Kids should be exposed to the arts as their cognitive skills mature so that their right brain will be as developed as the left, and both hemispheres work in tandem, thus achieving the full potential of the mind. This is where homeschooling can reap such incredible benefits for your child. Unlike traditional schools that mainly focus on stimulating and working the left hemisphere of math, reading and science, you can give your child an amazing opportunity as he grows to work both hemispheres equally, creating limitless possibilities for your child’s intelligence.
The New York Center for Arts Education also lists these amazing benefits when you include art in your everyday homeschool. Your child:
• learns to think creatively, with an open mind
• learns to observe and describe, analyze and interpret
• learns to express feelings, with or without words.
• practices problem-solving skills, critical-thinking skills, dance, music, theater and art-making skills, language and vocabulary of the arts
• discovers that there is more than one right answer, multiple points of view
• learns to collaborate with other children and with adults
• Arts introduce children to cultures from around the world
• Arts build confidence. Because there is not just one right way to make art, every child can feel pride in his original artistic creations.
Most importantly, you’re teaching your child that education can be fun, because play and creativity is learning! There’s no right or wrong answer when your child creates something with her own two hands. Traditional schools push memorization and testing, which cause nothing but the destruction of your child’s creativity. In your homeschool you can focus more on creative expression which will make learning much more enjoyable for your child.
To help being out the creativity in your child you can:
• Always make arts and crafts supplies available and accessible to your child – paper, pencil, crayons, stickers, glitter glue, etc. Keep these supplies on a low shelf and in plain sight. Allow your child to get bored so that his imagination takes over and he reaches for the paper and markers. Trying to keep your child constantly occupied with activities is not the best thing to do. Give him time to stimulate his creative side by letting him come up with his own task to accomplish.
• Celebrate your child’s artwork – hang their drawings on the wall or save it in a folder. Showing your child that his creations are something special and important to you are vital in building his self-confidence.
• Read read read! Ask the librarian to suggest books about artists and the arts.
• Notice the arts all around you – take your child to museums, concerts, or to the theater. Notice the art even in the parks, subways, and open spaces. Start a conversation about what you see to help increase her observation and interpretative skills.
• Enjoy the arts at home – share your artistic skills and interests with your child.
• Enroll your child in an art class.
Your child’s intelligence has limitless possibilities and as the parent you have the power to open the floodgates of their imaginations and allow them to experience education in a more natural way for his developing brain- through creativity and self-expression. There is no greater gift you can give to your child!