Creativity

How to Make Space for Kids to Create

We’re walking in a bold new world right now. Many families are having new emotional experiences. Our Art Feeds team has been soaking up the wisdom of professionals around us and something we’re hearing around us is “Make Space” and “Hold Space”. We talk about Space in our Art Feeds classrooms, but it got us thinking: What are practical ways we can Make Space at home for our kids to feel, create and express?

First, let’s talk about checking in with yourself.

When you’re making space for someone else, try to aside a time to check in with yourself and ask: What am I feeling right now? What do I need? 

Make a snack, drink some water, make sure your clothes are comfy. Make sure your needs are met and that you’re up for prioritizing someone else for a bit. 

Then, turn outward. Think through the needs of the person you’re with, understanding that you’re prioritizing their wellbeing for a spell. Prepare to give them your attention without judgement, and keep your own feelings in check through the process.

Physical Space:

Even in our tiny living areas, we can find room for abundance. Can we clear off the kitchen table for creativity? Can a balcony or back porch be made into a Messy play area? 

Creating a clear physical space to create can help us mentally prepare for the project. The space can feel totally different even with a drawing pad over your coffee table. Ready to make. Floors, too!

Boundaries:

Before we start creating, make a mental list of boundaries that you’ll hold during the process. Our boundaries involve anything that could be a risk to safety- We know that we’ll guide children away from making choices that could compromise safety for themselves or anybody else. We also keep our 3 rules in check for kindness between children. (Learn more about those in this article about the Rules of Art Feeds.)

But beyond that? We let it play out. We check our words and only let positivity come out. Comments on how they could make other color choices that you would like better? Nope. Suggestions on how to make a more accurate face? Nah, not the most important. 

Let them create without your commentary and see what comes from their minds and hands. You won’t be disappointed.

Emotional Space:

Start with a few questions as you’re sitting with your children preparing for the project. If you can create quiet before you begin, you can help them stretch, take deep breaths, shake their wiggles out. We try to wait until there’s quiet before we set supplies out (to avoid massive spills and flinging paint) and also to help create an emotional space for kids. In all the lessons on Art Feeds Online, there are conversations to start with to help children process ideas that can help them express emotions and grow in resiliency. But if you’re not an Art Feeds Online member, you can ask questions that are pertinent in your house: What was your favorite moment of today? What color are you feeling right now? (Try this project to create that shared language at home.) If you could live in the world of any book, which one would you choose? Why? 

And lastly, (and maybe the most difficult)...

Modeling:

If you’re hoping to create a calm space for children to create at home, it’s up to you to model what calm looks like. Listen, this can be difficult, but if we’re trying to help our kids grow healthy coping mechanisms, we’ve gotta grow our own. Deep breaths, friends. This isn’t easy and it isn’t quick. And lucky for ALL OF US, there’s grace abundant.

We’ve talked to grown ups all over the world and here’s what we hear: “I loved to paint, but I heard Uncle John make fun of my art and then I stopped”, or “I love moving, but my dance teacher said I wasn’t talented so now I only dance in private”. What we hear them say is “I had something that brought me joy and grounded me, but someone’s negativity crushed that for me and I put it away forever.” How sad for both parties. 


When it comes to kids who love to make, create and explore, sometimes this comes down to what they heard around them when they were creating. Did they hear criticism and frustration? Or did they hear observations and sense your presence and attention? We can’t control much in the world, but we can make some space.

 

COO of Art Feeds, Mama of June, Fan of Tetris. Brooke has been with Art Feeds since the first year it existed and her role has changed every year as our org has grown. You’ll find her managing many of the administrative tasks, websites and graphic design, while creating in the classroom whenever possible. When she’s not in the office, she’s outside with her family, dancing in her kitchen or planning their next road trip.

Photo by Mike Fox on Unsplash

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