Creative and connected kids (and adults!) are happier, healthier and – can I say – more fun to be around! That’s because when our creative muscle is strong we can find solutions where others might only see problems. It helps us turn obstacles into challenges we are inspired to tackle. When our ability to think outside the box is maximized the world is more like a playground rather than a series of issues we have no idea now to handle. For kids (and adults!), this means easier social interactions and greater self-confidence.
But what does ‘being connected’ mean? Simply put, being connected is knowing what feels right to you and what doesn’t. It’s being tuned in to that wise part of you that helps you make decisions that jive with who you are and what you believe in. It’s never too early to start talking about this with your kids; adjust your language to suit their needs and the beliefs of your family. For example, in my home we call it ‘the God part’ that we each have inside us. Another idea would be to call it ‘the smart part.’ It’s amazing how quickly kids pick up on the fact that they have an internal instrument that can guide them!
The relationship between creativity and connectedness is reciprocal: the more creative you are, the more connected you are and vice versa.
As I’ve said before, creativity isn’t simply about the fine arts, but the fine arts certainly exercise this muscle. So whether you identify as an artist or not, you have endless opportunities to create in your daily life and I strongly suggest you take some of them!
Here are 5 suggestions for helping your kids stay creative and connected this summer. And of course, if you join in, you’ll be making life-long personal and family habits that will benefit you for years to come.
1. Get them outside – preferably in a natural setting.
A playground is great. A forest, beach or park is better. Hanging out in Nature (unplugged) instills an appreciation and wonder for the natural world. This in turn creates more caretakers for Mama Earth! Aside from that, there is so much more space to run around, find imaginative ways to play and feel the freedom we all crave. Some ideas include: swimming in a lake, playing on a sandy beach, walking through old growth forests and playing in treed parks.
2. Write in a daily journal for at least 5 minutes.
The act of journaling forces us to be still for a few minutes and connect with our thoughts. It encourages a quiet, inner relationship that can end up being an amazing friendship during the years ahead (think: adolescence!). If your child isn’t used to journaling, help them out by prompting then to recount the day’s events and ask them to write down the feelings that they associate with the day. Speaking of which, if it’s difficult to tack this on to the bedtime routine, then try starting the day this way or reserve it as a quiet activity for the afternoon. Is your child too young to write? Get them drawing! If they are willing to tell you about their drawing, you can write their thoughts for them.
3. Have them create something with their hands on a daily basis (or at least a few times a week!)
The idea of a mess every day isn’t appealing to me, either…but some messes are easier to clean than others so choose your media according to your tolerance for that day! Pens, pencils, crayons, chalk (for the sidewalk or a chalkboard), pastels, paints, clay, origami paper, Lego…there are so many ways to use our hands and imaginations to make something. You can visit Pinterest or simply Google ideas, but I prefer providing the materials and having the kids come up with ideas. The whole point is to get them using their imaginations and develop their own creative process. The end result is really not important. Encourage and appreciate their willingness to be brave with their art.
4. Nurture a current interest.
I know – some kids change interests every day while others hold strong to their favourites. One day your 8 year old daughter could wake up with a sudden infatuation with dinosaurs. So, what can you do once you’ve given her all the (5) facts you know about them? Well, if by day 3 she is still asking you to tell her more, go down to the library and have her find books on the topic. Encourage her to find them on her own, using her problem solving skills to do so. This could tie in to the idea above and she can come up with her own art project involving dinosaurs. The point is to validate and nurture their curiosity. Curiosity is what feeds creativity!
5. Come up with a creative way to support a charity of their choice.
What does kindness have to do with being connected to one’s Self? Everything. Because our true Self is kind and loving. Being engaged with that part of us further enhances our creativity. And the more we exercise our creative muscle, the more ideas we can dream up to solve the problems facing our communities. It’s so intricately tied together – creativity, authenticity and kindness – and living at the intersection of these 3 things is such a sweet place to be! So, based on their interests, present them with a number of local charities so that they can pick one to support. Together, find out what kinds of donations the charity would appreciate and then brainstorm ways to help out. This is a fun, family-bonding activity and it is by no means limited to the summer time.
Here’s to a creative and connected summer for your kids and you!