Art and Our Unschooled Child (Must-have Arts and Crafts Supplies)

DSC_2871We put a lot of emphasis on art. I don’t really care if my child doesn’t learn how to count to 100 until she’s much older. It honestly doesn’t bother me; when it’s finally practical for her to learn it, I’m confident she will. And she encounters numbers in daily life, so I’m sure she’ll naturally pick it up. I just refuse to drill her. Art, on the other hand, is one of the things I consciously expose Marguerite to (and even Cameron, as young as he is), pretty much the same way we intentionally cultivate the love of books and reading. This exposure starts early and we truly invest in it. We’ve enrolled her in art classes and we’re never short of supplies and projects to work on.

Let me tell you, however, that until now that she’s 6.5 years old she’s still not careful about staying within the lines. My knee-jerk reaction is to correct this “wrong” habit, but another side of me vehemently balks at the idea. She also chooses and changes colors without following the normal rudiments of coloring. Since her favorite hues are purple and pink, she frequently sticks to shades of those two when coloring something. She’s not bothered about making things look neat and realistic.

Now, by circumstance of her attending a regular Sunday School program, I’m able to compare her progress with that of other kids her age, and my (also others’) observation is that she’s on an entirely different plane. Again, part of me is driven to worry, but this urge is fortunately squelched by a kind of fascination. It would seem as though she were behind her peers, but I’m discerning a much deeper implication. Take for instance one coloring activity they had to do in her class. The picture was pretty sparse of details, so the teacher told the kids to add other elements to the picture to make it come alive. All the other kids added a sun, a couple of clouds, a tree, a stretch of grass, and a flower while Marguerite chose to add a rainbowfly (some bug thing she invented), a pumpkin dragon (another invention), cotton candy clouds (“Why are they pink?” “Because they’re made of cotton candy.”), and a few other made-up creatures.

I have no idea if she’ll later end up the better artist for it, but I’m really fascinated by the freedom, the lack of compulsion to conform, the rawer imagination her work suggests. I think I crave these things. I’ve always had the inclination to rebel and to be contrary, but at the end of the day, my outlook is quite ordinary. I’m also quite anal and sadly afflicted with a lack of originality, although I believe I make a valiant effort to put up a fight against these particular traits.

work from art classPicasso said that every child is an artist, that the problem is in remaining one once grown up. My aim is to nourish this inherent characteristic and encourage it to flourish.  And, as much as I encourage it, I’m not going to make a serious business out of doing art either. When Marguerite was about to start her art classes, one of the teachers asked me if there was an area I was especially concerned about, and I replied that I just wanted Marguerite to have fun and learn, in that order. I already know that it is her impulse to be creative, so if she could broaden her knowledge and experiences, then she could have more fun ways of making art.

bloom coloring pageI also think it’s important for our children to see us engaging in creative pursuits as well. I personally am not an official artist, but I do like taking up artistic pursuits. I find that my kids always want in on whatever I’m doing, so I’ve conditioned myself to welcome this and not resent the intrusion. I do enjoy doing art activities with my kids. Cameron, of course, either wants to get everything that you’re using or makes it his mission to put everything in his mouth. It’s definitely not the relaxing, tranquil moment you probably hope for, but, in terms of quality, it’s definitely better. Take this coloring page I downloaded for free from Beauty That Moves. I printed two copies, one for me and one for Marguerite. I gave Cameron a blank sheet on which he happily scribbled, but to which he wasn’t about to confine himself to. He kept on lunging at my paper with his crayon, meeting with success one time. Naturally, Marguerite, who’s ambidextrous, finished early as, like I said, she’s not particular about staying within the lines, and she could switch hands easily when one got tired. Seeing that I was far from finished, she offered to help me. Naturally, I couldn’t refuse. It was an intricate picture with lots of details. If you find coloring therapeutic, I suggest working on this page.

I said that we’re never short of arts and crafts supplies, and as a homeschooling family, it’s really important to have some handy. Sometimes, the inspiration to work on a project comes spontaneously, so you want to be able to have the necessary materials ready when the desire to be artsy or crafty comes along. The ones we consider must-haves are the following: paper, pencils, crayons, markers, watercolors, tempera paint, glue, Scotch tape, scissors, color pencils, oil pastels, ruler, and brushes. You could assemble an art kit by buying supplies separately, or you could just buy a complete kit, which is what I prefer to do for my daughter. Some other supplies that are nice to have ready are craft foam, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, pom poms, googly eyes, ribbons, strings, rubber stamps, felt, colored chalk, glitter glue, and double-sided tape.

Did I miss anything? What nifty craft material not included here would you recommend or add to the list?

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