I remember being at a homeschool conference where the speaker asked each parent to think of a single word to describe her child. I could tell many parents were struggling. A lot of the moms said their daughters were sweet. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being sweet. But I felt sad for those sweet girls with nothing else distinctive about them besides being feminine and soft. I immediately knew what word described my daughter, and I have known this word since she was five years old — creative.
I have raised an artist. And this is how I did it.
1. I Encouraged Creativity From an Early Age
When I say encouraged, I mean I invested in it. That’s what encouragement really means from a parent’s perspective — spending money, time, energy, and space on your child’s passion. It’s not merely saying nice things like “way to go!” or “great job!” It’s about demonstrating a value for art by filling your home with artsy things.
I had a well-stocked craft cabinet back when “Sprite” was a preschooler. She had free reign to the supplies because I taught her how to clean up from the very start. Even though we lived abroad where children’s crafts were not common, I prioritized buying crafty materials when we were on trips to other countries or back in America. Glitter glue and sharpie markers were packed lovingly beside chocolate chips and chili powder.
As Sprite grew up, I started buying more advanced art supplies, investing in the tools she needed to develop her talent.
She took lots of weekly art lessons over the years from a variety of instructors. Once we took Chinese watercolors together. And later we took a drawing class together. She enrolled in summer art camp two different years at Memphis College of Art.
I’ve spent a lot of money, time, and energy on art. She couldn’t have become an artist without my support in this manner.
2. I Call Emma an Artist
Instead of saying
- My daughter can really draw!
- My daughter likes art.
I say, “My daughter is an artist.”
What is an artist? Someone who creates art. By this definition, Emma has been an artist for many years. I don’t want to minimize her talent by portraying it as a mere interest or hobby. Instead I want to let Emma and others know that I see her as a full-fledged artist.
3. We Visited Museums and Looked at Art Everywhere
For years we used the page-a-day calendar featuring art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Plus we have toured museums and art shows in many countries and cities. Sometimes they were dinky and rather pathetic. Other times, like our visit to The Met, we were almost giddy with excitement. But the point was that we “did art.”
We still visit our local museums regularly even now that Emma is a high school sophomore.
4. I Appreciate her Creative Ways and Ignore the Mess
Art is messy. Our home has been strewn with markers, pencils, and stacks of artwork for years. But this is part of raising an artist. I made sure Emma had organizational tools like baskets, plastic bins, and cabinets to keep her tools handy, but sometimes supplies have to be left out during a long project. You can’t raise an artist if you’re always stressing about mess. There will be artistic clutter.
As a typical artist-type, Emma is rather disorganized with her room. She’s gotten better over the years, but she says that as a visual person, she likes to see her things (scattered about her room) because when they are put away, she forgets about them. That way of thinking is foreign to me, but that’s because I’m different from her.
In order to raise an artist, you must embrace the entire artist persona, including the messy bedroom. It’s not a sin to be messy. It’s just a difference that can be irritating to an orderly person. I knew that this difference between us could be a real problem, so when Emma was still very young, I made up my mind to not argue about the messes. I did have limits, but I tried to overlook much of the disaster area in favor of nurturing our relationship and her creativity.
My post is one in a group of posts written by iHomeschool Network bloggers about raising a success. See them all by clicking the image below.
Special Invitation to a High School Webinar
My friend Lee Binz, the Home Scholar, is offering a free webinar to my readers. This 60+ minute session is titled A Homeschool Parent’s Guide to High School Grades, Credits, and Transcripts and covers answers to these questions:
- How do I evaluate my children?
- How can I give grades that colleges will believe?
- How should I assign credits?
- Where can I get the answers I need?
It’s free to attend, and I can promise you will come away from the time with a renewed confidence that you home educate your child all the way through high school so he can enter college! You will have practical action steps and leave with a clear plan of action for creating a high quality transcript that colleges will like.
This webinar is live on Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 5 PM PT or 8 PM ET. There will be an opportunity to ask questions of Lee at the end of the event. To attend, you do need to register so you can be sent a special link to access the event.
Erin-The Usual Mayhem says
I love this post! With three kids, we are sometimes forced to quell the chaos a little, but we have raised one very talented photographer and have a fabric artist in our house as well. Not sure what #3 is yet (union negotiator?! professional debater?!) but we will embrace his interests as we’ve done with the others.
I agree with you wholeheartedly about investing time and money in their interests and skills to show them that you really support them. I think it makes a huge difference in how they perceive their own efforts. Well done, Jimmie and Emma – the results show the hard work your whole family has put in!
Wow! I wish she sold some of her art. The picture of the man in the turban is just stunning!!
LOVE this, Jimmie! It’s been fun to watch Emma’s progression as an artist – and to read your practical tips for encouraging her. You’ve done a fantastic job.
I’ve applied the same principles to Anna becoming a musician — just doing everything to encourage her, exposer her to wonderful music, and provide her with the BEST opportunities possible. It’s all about advocating for and appreciating our children for who they are.
This is my 9 year old…exactly. Thank you so much for writing this. I have a very hard time with the “mess part”, so I’m glad to know it’s a part of who she is as an artist. As a very organized mathematician, this is a daily struggle.
My situation is reversed. I’m the artistic type with my music writing supplies all around and my son is more analytical and often views my things as cluter. Only after reading your post did I come to realize that having my things out around me is normal for my personality type. As people and parent’s we do better when we know better. Even though my son’s need for neat and clean is very different from my own needs I work hard to let him be who he is. I wish when I was growing up my mother had been privy to such a thought. Those years of trying to be a neat and tidy girl…
I have an artist. There’s definitely mess involved. When she was 11, I thought how in the world can I help her develop. She had some drawing books. I had no idea how to help her move to any other medium. But the Lord took care of it. We had a “random” encounter with a man on the street. We found out he was a painter. We told him Rebecca liked to draw, and he invited her to join his weekend class. She went once (free of charge) and he invited her to come join him as often as possible. She spent about 8 hours a week learning one-on-one with him and helping him with his commissions. When she was 12, he started giving her some of the commissions to fulfill on her own, splitting the money with her. Within a year of my thinking I couldn’t give her what she need to progress, she was a “professional” artist.
Thanks for a very good article! I liked point 2 “I Call Emma an Artist”, this is very important in my opinion. Our son is an artist with an eye for design, we followed the similar advice we received from a family friend. Providing them the tools they want (as long as these are affordable) helps them to move at a faster pace in pursuing their passion.
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