Creativity Is As Natural as Breathing
By Marty Layne
When I was 17, I wrote a column for my high school newspaper called Etchings In Culture focused on the various art and music activities in the area. Thirty-five years later, it’s fun to be writing another column about the arts. This time, though, it’s about why the arts are important, how to incorporate the arts in your everyday life as a homeschooling family, and how to encourage your children to express their creativity. Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am the mother of 4 young adults ranging in age from 15-23. My children have been learning at home since they were born. Ever since they were small, they played with pencils, markers, pens, paints, clay, playdough, sand, dress-up clothes, etc.
My husband and I ran a nursery school together before our children were born. Self-directed drama, painting, and singing were daily activities in our nursery school. We set up the school so that the children had lots of material to use to create plays, act out a story, or create pieces of art. We sang together everyday. When we became parents, we continued in the same vein and set up our house so that our children had easy access to paint boxes, easels, dress up clothes, etc. And we sang everyday.
None of our children have gone to school. Each one of them spent a lot of time playing and creating things when they were small. Now, each one is involved in pursuing an artistic career. We didn’t know when they were young that they would be interested in making a career from music, visual art, writing or dance. My husband and I just knew that creating things with paint, clay, sand, dress-up clothes, sewing, etc. was as natural to children as breathing. So we supported this kind of creative activity in as many ways as we could. That’s what this column is all about. Sharing with you my ideas, observations, and suggestions for resources so that you can provide a creative atmosphere for your children at home.
Why are the arts so important? Is the goal to create professional musicians, painters, dancer, writers, sculptor, actors, and composers? No. The arts are a way for us to express ourselves and to understand ourselves and others by experiencing emotions, sounds, and visual stimuli in a different way from the ordinary. Everyone knows that a child needs to learn to read and do math in order to function in this world. Putting on a play or drawing a picture doesn’t seem to fit. It doesn’t seem necessary, at least not at first. But expression and communication is what life is about. It gives us meaning. Babies communicate from a birth with facial expressions, body position, and vocalizing. As a baby grows older, he becomes more able to manipulate his environment and begins to play with things to both find out how they work and to communicate his point of view. Children continue to do this through play. Giving children access to a wide variety of materials to use to express themselves allows them to grow and develop their own unique perception of the world.
Each column will focus on a particular form of the arts. I’ll give you ideas for how to incorporate this art form into your life, and a list of resource materials. My goal in writing is to enable you to have fun with your children as you explore the world of the arts
Marty Layne lives in Victoria, BC, Canada with her husband, children and cats. She is the author and publisher of Learning At Home: A Mother’s Guide To Homeschooling, Revised Edition. As well as writing, Marty likes to sing. Her CD - Brighten The Day - is a collection of 21 songs that celebrate the seasons. You can reach Marty at her website: http://members.home.net/seachangepublications/