She asked to keep the pocket notebook – a hardback, blank-paged journal – for her back pocket on the field trip. And the little pencil for her front pocket. I’d just purchased it – hadn’t gotten to use it yet – so I wanted to say, “no, it’s mine.”
Then I remembered my favorite line in The Secret Garden. “May I have a bit of earth?” Mary Lennox asks her wealthy uncle. She takes him by surprise. He wonders why she would want that, of all things she could ask.
I don’t wonder why. And so, too, I understand when our little girl wants a bit of paper for her pocket. I also want a bit of earth and a bit of paper.
~ Lori, Orange Beach, Alabama in a wooden swing overlooking Wolf Bay, a breeze at my back, waiting on the kids while they’re on a field trip
When Belle was a toddler or preschooler, sometimes a mother would visit and see her drawing with pencils, or, gasp— markers! Often the mother couldn’t help but ask, “So…you leave those out? It doesn’t get on the walls, she’s careful?”
Yes, we do leave them out, and yes, she’s most often careful. Now, I can’t say there have never been creative moments on undesirable locations (there is evidence on our garage’s bricks), but to me, the benefits outweigh the risk.
We encourage creativity by keeping supplies freely available:
I want my child to feel free to be creative. I want her to think outside the box. And so, there are scissors (about 8 pairs; we lose them often) in a basket with tape dispensers & glue sticks. Stickers and colored paper and lined paper are in a drawer; construction paper and foam sheets are in another. A small red plastic container holds pens & pencils – colored and drawing – and markers. A very large box of while typing paper is under the desk.
Each item is free to use. Anytime. The children may take the materials to the schoolroom table nearby, to the kitchen table, or to the countertop where I’m cooking. They may take the items to the playhouse – why, yes, even outdoors! They know to return them. We do lose bits now and then (I mentioned we have 8 pairs of scissors), but the items aren’t expensive since we buy them in August or September when they’re on sale.
But what would be expensive – far more expensive than a dollar or two – is missing the opportunity to capture creativity while it may be captured. When the materials are there, ready to be taken and used, she feels free to draw. He feels free to create.
We encourage responsiblity by teaching our creative kids to respect supplies:
In a nearby closet are more expensive, messier items like watercolors, acrylic paints, clay, glitter, wet glue, and higher quality art papers. These may be used freely, too, but a little one needs to ask for them, and they are used at a set location, such as the dining room table, where I can monitor their use (or, misuse).
There is no stress over how much paper is being used, or that markers will run dry. Though we may use the supplies freely, we do respect them. We take care of them. Crayon-breaking is absolutely not allowed, as each of our 4 toddlers has had to learn.
The result of encouraging creativity in our homeschool?
Our little creative preschooler above has turned into a young artist at 12. Here, she is, studying the human eye on her own.
Today, our conversation went like this:
Me: Are you doing your schoolwork?
Her: I’m drawing. … A human hand.
College kid: Good job! Mom will call that ‘science.”