This is a guest post written by Nathan and Sarah Hodges of Art Eater.
My mother always told us when we were growing up that “a little of everything does you good”. It’s good advice. And we’ve always tried to live that out with our kids too.
But of course, these days we have iPods and iPhones in our house. Oh, and several computers. And the inevitable Nintendo DS and the Wii as well. And a TV. You see, already it’s not a little is it? It’s a lot.
As we all know too well, given half a chance our kids would while away all the hours of their lives with these things, if we parents let them do it. And now and again — let’s admit it parents — in the interests of some peace and quiet, we let them do it.
Now, there are probably very few of us who want our kids to grow up as technological innocents who have never clicked a mouse. That’s a sure way to limit their education right there. But neither do we want the endless devices to steal away the time for our kids to draw, paint, read, craft, make music and explore their imagination. It’s just a better balance that’s required here – my Mum’s “little of everything” is what we need. The question is how do we get that balance without an endless battle?
Well, we’ve been trying something in our house. It might be working. And it might work for you too. You see, something struck us a little while ago. Maybe, we wondered, just maybe the most powerful attraction of the computer and the iPod and the Wii and the TV and all the other devices is not the level of stimulation or the endless amusement they provide. Perhaps, instead, it’s this simple fact: that you can just switch them on and start, there and then. No preparation required. No ingredients to buy. No newspaper to put over the table. No paint to mix. No oven to heat up. No page to find. No musical instrument to put together. Just press and go. Easy. Instant.
What would happen, we wondered, if we could find ways to make the creative things — painting, craft, reading, music, drawing, writing, colouring, constructive play — just as instant, just as accessible, just as easy for our kids simply to pick up and start?
So we’ve been trying to make it happen. We’ve been leaving the books around, leaving the instruments out. We’ve been making sure the kids get drawing times, painting times, reading times and craft times as well as screen times and computer times. We’ve moved the engaging toys to places they can be dragged out quickly, and where they can be seen. And we’ve been making sure we value the output of all of this creativity. The object of the exercise is to help them remember that a drawing or painting or story or model of is actually worth just as much as a high score on Mario Cart or extra points on Club Penguin. Or maybe a bit more. So depending on what it is, we either make sure it’s displayed on the wall, or put into the albums, or given pride of place on the shelves, or discussed and understood. (We haven’t done that kind of thing yet with the high scores or the extra points, come to think of it. Perhaps we should.)
So far, it seems to be going well. We’ll keep you posted, of course. But one of the best parts has been watching our kids rediscovering there are more ways to think, create and engage with the world than simply the electronic ones, cool though they are.
Balance. A little of everything. It’s underestimated, you know. Especially when you don’t need to fight too hard to get to it.
Art Eater is all about kids’ art. How to encourage it, display it and keep it. We can help you help your kids to express themselves with fresh, new ideas, art supplies and art products from all around the world. We can help you keep your children’s paintings and children’s drawings for a lifetime with our state-of-the-art image capture process. And we can turn your kids’ art and craft into unique gifts, personalised stationery, acrylic blocks, framed wall art or custom art books.
From Kelly: I love Art Eater! Not only for the unique, personal and innovate products but for the philosophy behind the business. If you want to know more, check out this fantastic blog: Kids Art Work.