The past couple weeks, I've been focusing L+E+S on the theme of Facilitating Children's Creativity (Part 1 and Part 2). For the last post in this series, I want to share three specific experiences I've had with Allison, my almost-9-year-old, regarding her creative opportunities.
January: Making Mosaic Mirrors
For a Brownie Girl Scout project, Allison and her fellow Brownies went to a local tile studio to create original mosaics on a basic mirror frame. What I can see now:
- The studio was set up to give the Brownies time and space to select freely any tile scraps from the "tile buffet" they wanted.
- The instructor's aim was keeping the girls safe (e.g., using tile cutters) and teaching proper use of materials (e.g., layering cement to affix tile pieces and mixing and applying grout to the finished piece).
- As a parent helper, I interfered with Allison's creative process and applied my own expectations to her project. One mistake I made was in suggesting specific placement of specific tile pieces onto her mirror.
While admiring her recently grouted project, Allison commented, "We did a good job, Mom." Allison feels proud of her work and did enjoy the process. But with my newfound knowledge about kids' creative process, I cringed at hearing "we" instead of "I."
Last Week: How Expectations Killed a Puppy
Having some extra time after completing her homework, Allison announced that she wanted to draw a puppy. "But I can't," she complained. "It won't turn out right." Armed with advice from Michele Cassou's Kid’s Play book, I encouraged Allison to draw the puppy that was in her heart, trying to assure her that whatever puppy finds its way to the paper will be okay.
With a deep breath, Allison began drawing, and I peeked at her paper, hoping to get a glimpse of a puppy coming to life. Not confident in her ability to draw a puppy accurately, Allison drew instead what she later told me was a roller coaster with the sun shining through. (It's pictured at right, and I'm trusting you to withhold any evaluation of her piece.) "I'm glad you drew that," I said with love, reminding myself that it will take more than one interaction to rebuild Allison's creative confidence.
This Week: More Mosaics
A couple days ago, Allison came home with a stack of new creations, including a mosaic made from pre-cut paper shapes. In the middle of saying "I like..." I stopped myself and shifted my sentence to "I'm glad you made that, Allison." (I'm learning!) I asked Allison which mosaic project she had most enjoyed making. "The mirror," she answered without hesitation. Turns out she liked the variety of shapes and colors of the tile compared with the pre-cut paper shapes, even though the process of gluing paper was a lot easier than cementing tile. Good to know.
Overall, I'm glad to have learned how to give my children the space, time, freedom and respect to develop their creativity to its fullest. I will keep practicing what I've learned and look forward to watching my kids blossom!
Have you practiced commenting "I’m glad you made that" in place of "I like what you made"? How have you been experiencing your child's creative process? Leave a comment or send me a tweet. I'd love to hear how you're facilitating creativity in the children around you!