by Jaime Simmons, FPD Elementary Art Teacher

As an art educator for over the past 17 years, I’ve learned many things.  One of them being that creative thinking is a dying art.

Don’t get me wrong; the progression of technology has been wonderful, amazing, and convenient.  With the swipe of a finger or the push of a button we have instant entertainment and gratification.  However, because of this, our creative outlets, ideas, and patience have been kicked to the curb.

Whatever happened to the days where the smell of a new box of crayons brought joy, or making a fort out of sheets and chairs was high quality entertainment, or when daily chores such as raking the yard turned into making maze houses with rooms and doorways from the thousands of fall leaves.  Some of my fondest memories of childhood were actually “doing” things, and I don’t mean playing Packman.

So where am I going with this?  I recently learned that with no power available and stuck at home for a few days, kids became restless.  Parents suggested coloring, drawing, reading, building with Legos, board games, and writing letters to a loved one.  What fabulous ideas, but shouldn’t we do these things WITH POWER available?  We simply don’t because we don’t have to.  Ipads, smart phones, and laptops make those activities seem like a thing of the past, but they shouldn’t!

I encourage us all to take a look at ourselves and our kids.

  • Include time for pretend play and building. Children thrive when creating and working with their hands. These teach social skills with others or simply much needed patience.
  • Give your child opportunities to hold pencils and crayons instead of iPads and tablets – and get messy doing so! Over the course of the years, I have seen a decline in the development of early children’s fine motor skills. They are not cutting, gripping pencils and crayons correctly, or willing to get their hands dirty. This saddens me because children are our future and, for these kids to thrive, we need them to think creatively and use their hands.
  • Make sharing with others a priority. This could be assisting with chores, writing letters to loved ones, or helping neighbors. These activities help them to take pride in their homes and families and learn ways to reach out to others.

So let’s all make a promise to take some time when not helping our kids with homework or going to and from the 1001 after school activities to try to encourage them to play outdoors during free time, make a painting or card for someone, play a game of charades, build a fort, or maybe unload a dishwasher, or fold some clothes?!?

Parents, it’s going to take us too. We are also spoiled by the conveniences of modern day technology.  Let’s all try to put the devices down more often and have one-on-one communication face to face.  Let’s find our inner child and teach our kids some creative outlets.

Let’s not let a power outage be the reason we go back to the “good ole’days.”

Want to learn more about encouraging creative thinking? Jaime Simmons will be leading FPD’s October 26 Books with Buddies event. The theme is Fall in Love with Art. Students in preschool are invited for story time and and an art project!

Register for our Books with Buddies Events