Unschooling + Creativity

One of the many wonderful things about unschooling, is that it allows the boys to have plenty of time for creativity. You may have heard that creativy is back in demand in the work place, but beyond that, I think creativity thinking is a cornerstone of joy.  I want our boys to have the tools they need to have happy lives as children and adults, and I believe creative play is a way to do that.

Sometimes their creative play happens with sticks and toys in the yard, sometimes it’s Legos, sometimes it’s every single pillow and blanket in the house.

Today, is was art. I just purchased some new oil pastels for myself and was doodling with them. The boys saw them and were inspired to try out their own pastels. My six year old drew a fire-breathing dinosaur and used his hands to blend the colors together. He came up with the blending technique all on his own. The younger boys made more abstract art. They drew together for at least 30 minutes.

We love the giant sketch pads from Jerry’s for kid art. The pages are sturdy. The kids love drawing big, and the pads have a ton of sheets for a great price. The boys were using Crayola oil pastels and unknown chalk pastels from a few years ago.

I’ve learned a few things about facilitating kid art over the years. 

1. Kids love working big, so the floor is your friend.

2. Buy the sturdy paper. Thin sheets are frustrating. They bend and wrinkle and tear. 

3. Buy the cheap markers. Unless you want to police their every move with a marker, buy cheap, washable markers. Like Dollar Tree cheap. Those lids are never going back on in a timely fashion. 

4. Watercolor paint is magic.

5. If you can make space for an art corner, do it. Leave the supplies in reach. Show the kids how to be independent in the art space. You will be amazed at how capable they are.

6. Abstraction is a toddler’s BFF and representational work is over-rated when it comes to kid art. It’s all about the process. 

7. If you want a painting for the wall, think analogous color scheme. 

8. Step away from the art space. Check in occasionally,  but don’t stay. Avoid helping, and allow your child to focus on the process. The more you can get away from thinking about the destination and focus on the journey, the better. And maybe that is life advice, too.

9. It’s going to be messy and that’s half the fun. Dress accordingly.

Unschooling Life

Special announcement: I’m starting a new blog series on unschooling. 💃😄

Investigating a moth in the backyard

So, I get a lot of questions about unschooling, and I thought I would start sharing some of our unschooled life here, on the blog. Now, there are a great many beautifully written blogs and books on unschooling theory, so I won’t delve into that. (But if you’re interested, I would highly recommend Free To Learn by Peter Gray, and the blog, Happiness is Here by Australian unschooling mom, Sara.) The question I get most often is, “But what to you *do* everyday?” That, my friends, is what I will be sharing here. It is such a huge part of what I do, and how I work. Unschooling happens all day, everyday. We unschool in the studio, kitchen + backyard. We learn at parks, museums, beaches + campgrounds.  When I was teaching, we talked about how kids learn through play, but you know, everyone does. I do it everyday in my art studio, or at the beach. Learning does not have to exist only in books and classrooms and quizzes. Humans are just naturally curious. The key to unschooling is to allow curiousity to take the lead. Whoops. I said I wasn’t going to talk theory. 

Looking for marine arthropods in tide pools

Today, our unschoolhouse is the local children’s museum, Marbles.

My scientist playing in the submarine

We are super lucky to have the most amazing children’s museum in our city. Its two stories, has nearly a dozen different giant interactive spaces indoors, plus two splash areas, a garden, a cafe, and an IMax. In the mornings it is overrun with toddlers and field trips. This place is super popular. In the afternoons, it’s pretty much just us. The people that work there are amazing. They are so good at interacting with my kids. My six year old is outgoing and energetic and they greet him with matching energy. My four year old is extremely shy and scares easily when approached by strangers (or most anyone, really). Never once has he been scared at the children’s museum. My two year old is nicknamed “danger baby,” and this place allows him to practice death defying stunts in a wonderfully child-proofed arena. 

I could wax poetic about the museum for hours, but suffice it to say, its mommy heaven. My kids are happy, I am relaxed, and they are playing and learning. Its my go-to activity on days when I am tired, burnt out, happy, its raining, most days. The museum is totally our “unschoolhouse.” What’s your go-to activity with the kiddos? Do you go out or stay in?