I don’t think anyone ever denies that creativity is a good thing (except us mom who sometimes has to deal with the end results of our children’s creative messes and other disasters).  But often times there’s the question of how to foster it.  Summer is great time for kids to have more chances to be creative.

The thing that I’ve learned over time is that first and foremost, kids need the free time in order to be creative.  With few exceptions, most of us don’t operate with the idea of this is now “creative time” be creative.  Okay, we can do somethings, but most likely it’s not going to be our best work.  It most likely happens spontaneously.  Often if we don’t seize the moment (or at least take time to work with the ideas a bit) the ideas tend to fade into oblivion.

Second, kids needs some model or some initial ideas or basic skills.  This may sound a bit counter intuitive.  Why do they need some preset things in order to be creative.  Well, if they don’t have at least some working knowledge of somethings, they may be the most creative people who would have invented the wheels eons ago, but what’s the point.  They can take the preexisting things and upgrade them to something better.  Also, lets take art.  There are some basic skills that can open their door to greater creations if they are at least fluent in those skills.  Or maybe basic wood working skills which would enable them to design and put together more complex things.

Of course they would also need materials.  I have come to the conclusion that even if it’s just a phase, if my kids want materials to work on a project and the materials are not outrageously expensive, I’ll get it for them.  Of course I do not want to foster the idea of jumping from one thing to another and never finishing what they start, so this is a judgement call.

Finally, remove mindless distractions especially the super passive kind.  I’m not opposed to electronic entertainment such as movies and games.  But in order for creative juices to flow, they cannot be preoccupied by all these distractions.  So there is a time and place for these things, but they are best turned off for the most part.

My mom was right.  Kids need time to get bored so they can become creative.  So let them explore some new skills this summer, but also give them time to develop those skills and put them into new and creative uses.

Behavior differences

We got a really nice comment the other day about our kids, that their behavior is the same whether we are around or not.  I’m glad to have the confirmation of pretty much what I already suspected.  Of course you can argue if their behavior is always acceptable, but I’m glad that at least they are not hypocrites and we have the chance to address unacceptable behaviors and try to guide them accordingly.  Mark and I both work with kids in different capacities and I enjoy just playing and hanging around with the kids.  Unfortunately we often do see kids’ behaviors change in the presence of their parents and other adults (hum, guess I don’t quite count as an adult?).  And I know that some of the “good” kids don’t like me because they know that I don’t buy into their “good” behavior stuff and will call them out if necessary.

I think as a homeschool mom, because my kids are around me almost 24/7, it’s so important for them to be themselves and know that no topic is off limits so they can gain wisdom in trying to process everything under the sun.  Over time, I’ve learned to listen more before reacting and learning to tamper my reaction so as to not cut off the communication path.  I hope as my kids grow that they would remain “simple” and gain the freedom to just be themselves.

Are my kids perfect.  No way!  I’m not.  Do they still try to hide things from me?  You bet?  I still can be quite juvenile and try to hide somethings in my life too.  But we are working on this together and encouraging each other to greater maturity.

Pause and Reflect

I have been busy learning the ropes with WordPress to put together the new website for Mid-Rio Grande Home School Band.  Finally found a music player that I like for the past concert recordings.  As I was uploading and getting the recordings ready, I decided to listen to some of the songs from beginning band from both the fall and spring concerts.  Wow, what a difference in quality and such improvements.

It’s really a silly thought.  Of course there would be improvements from previous months especially when it’s beginning band.  But, I’ve been so used to the girls in the higher bands that I think over time I’ve just became kind of critical in terms of the missed notes the missed counts etc and it’s good to stop and reflect on how far the kids have come.

I think it’s the same with raising our kids.  Often time, all we see is what still needs improving and not the milestones that they have already reached.  So we can become a discouragement to our own kids.  Rather than encouraging them with the progress they have already made, we can become critical as to what they have not achieved.  Especially at the end of the school year (not that we ever have one since we go year round as my kids like to remind me), it’s a good time to look back at the beginning of the year and, perhaps not even focus so much on the knowledge that they have gained (especially if they are in the binge and barf mode as so many of have been in our lives with school), but what good characters have they developed because that is what will ultimately carry them through life.

Energy to Burn

Okay, I’m not really talking about myself with energy to burn.  Wish that was the case.  This morning when I let the dog in, she started tearing through the house at top speed.  I could have gotten mad at her, but realizing that it’s just that she’s a people dog and she wants to run around with people.  So I went out to the backyard with her and played with her for a few minutes.  She’s satisfied and happy to have had the time with me, and I don’t have to worry about the house being destroyed by her running through it at top speed.

I think sometimes our kids are not dissimilar to my dog.  They really don’t mean harm but they have so much energy to burn and if we don’t give them a proper outlet, they can become destructive and our improper response can ruin our relationship with them.  Especially for boys, we really need to be sensitive to their need to be active and move about.  Come up with creative ways for them to burn off energy.  Find ways to study while burning off energy.  Take an active part in their activities too, that is often how good memories are built for not just the kids but us too.  Does it mean that we just let our kids drive our agenda?  No, but I’ve known a dog trainer who has turned humane society dogs into movie stars and service dogs.  She doesn’t let her dogs get away with being disobedience, but she still have a loving relationship with her dogs.  So we too need wisdom to know how to balance things in life so we teach our children to work and be obedient but within the context of how they function as people.

Clean up and organize

We went to our kids’ band to help with sorting through all the music and instruments to wrap up the year.  It was surprising how many people showed up to help (almost half of the kids were there).  We sorted through all the music and things fairly quickly.  Got to have pizza and the kids played games afterwards.  It was a very rewarding time for everyone.

So, I think we need to do the same thing at home.  Sort though everything we don’t need, organize and then have a fun celebration time when we are done.  Recently the girls helped dig through the boys’ room and got things organized and their room look so much better.

Anyway, just a good reminder that it’s a better thing to organize things at the end of the school year, even though the break may not seem to come soon enough, but might as well get through everything first so there can be a fresh new start come fall.

Team Sports Myth

How many people buy into the team sports myth about character building?  I like what Voddie Baucham says about that.  If team sports really brings about all those good characters then we should see shining examples of the results in the NBA and NFL.

I did a quick look up of the benefits of team sports and the list includes

  • friendship and camaraderie
  • cooperation and teamwork skills
  • leadership skills
  • appreciation of different abilities
  • respect for team mates/ opponents/officials
  • a sense of belonging/team membership
  • social interaction skills
  • physical skills
  • self-esteem and self concept
  • team goal-setting skills
  • self-discipline, patience and persistence
  • resilience through sharing positive and negative experiences.

Hum, so how much of these characteristics do we see reflected by the professional team sports players.  Maybe you can call me somewhat a sour puss because while growing up I was usually a professional bench warmer who was usually one of the last picked in any pick up games and never the star of any team.  Team sports in my school days had probably done more damage than good and almost every item listed ended in the negative column for me.  And come to think of it, the idea of the team star, doesn’t that defeat so much of the idea of the “team” and switch it the individual?  Thankfully, I’ve slowly clawed my way out of my poor self-image regarding physical abilities which I’ve since realized was more caused by lack of popularity than ability.

Maybe I’m thinking about teamwork now because the kids just finished their end of year band concert.  Looking through the list about the benefits of team sports, I think being in band actually fulfills the list more faithfully than sports.  In band or orchestra, it’s a really bad idea to out play your neighbor except when auditioning for solo parts or chair.  You either play well together, or you go down in flames together.  Everyone needs to put in their part for the whole to succeed.  Now that’s a true team.  Of course I’m not advocating that every parent must put their child in some kind of music group nor am I advocating that children should not take part in team sports.  But what I am advocating is that we all need to think critically about our decisions as regards to what our children does, not based on what everyone else says or does, but be willing to stand alone if necessary to make the most logical and thought through decisions which will ultimately be the best for our kids.