Why this blog?

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I guess It’s time I write a post about why I started this blog. Why a blog solely dedicated to art and design for kids? Because I’m just extremely sad that kids aren’t getting enough creativity training in schools, and I want to be able to help change that.

It is imperative that our kids learn how to nurture their creativity, as it will only help them as they grow older. I won’t talk about the studies pertaining to the benefits of arts education for kids, (I’m working on that post….) but rather focus right now on why I’m doing this.

I’ve heard from many people who seem to be as passionate as I am about this topic, and it’s both gratifying and frustrating. (Mostly gratifying.) The frustrating part is seeing art classes dwindling and disappearing in so many schools. My daughter doesn’t get very much art in school, but I didn’t realize she’s one of the lucky ones. Lots of kids have ZERO art in school. And I wonder how many of those kids get any art at home. (Besides a new pack of markers once in a while.) When parents are working full time or don’t feel they are creative themselves, there’s not going to be much room for providing kids with one of the most important life and work skills.

kids making art

Yep, I said it. One of the most important. Don’t get me wrong. I love math, science, reading, writing, learning in general. But what about all of the buzzwords we’ve been tossing around lately like, “creative thinking”, “thinking outside the box”, “creative problem solving”? Do we learn these supposedly important skills in math class? Nope. We learn them by exploring, observing, expressing, sloshing a big fat paint brush across a giant piece of paper, staring intently at our reflection in a mirror as we try to recreate it with a pencil, trying to build an incredibly tall coil pot, and when it slumps, trying a different approach. No, the lessons learned through art-making can’t be quantified, but they are immense.

I grew up with conflicting messages about art: In second grade, when the teacher asked us all what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I said an artist, she replied, “Oh, you’d better marry someone rich, then!” I didn’t quite understand what she said then, but carried the message with me until I did understand it, and now I cringe when I think of that moment. We’re so impressionable as kids, and so many adults have negative ideas of art as superfluous. Luckily my parents were supportive of my creative calling.

kids making art

So on to the whole ‘design’ part of my blog. We live in a visual world. You’ve heard this, you experience it on a daily basis. There are ads, cars, buildings, clothes, toys, and parks around us always. Who do you think designs all of these items? Designers, that’s who. People who have been trained in art and design. People who use their creative skills on a daily basis to come up with ideas of things and places that are functional and beautiful. And they get paid cash money to do this!

My point is, designers are a hot commodity in today’s world, and without them, things would be ugly. Utilitarian. Boring. We’d all just go back to bed in the morning instead of being inspired to walk through our beautifully landscaped neighborhood park, or hop in our awesome sports car that looks like a stealth bomber. We wouldn’t be able to choose between our brown leather riding boots or cheetah print flats. We’d be deprived of the play of wood and stainless steel in the coffee shop while we wait for our latte. Things in our world are designed, and kids grow up to have careers to make this happen.

Products for kids have come a long way, too, and I love ‘em. There are some kid things out there that rival and even surpass products for adults. When designers tap into their playful sides, beautiful results happen.

Essentially, I’m doing this blog because I just love every aspect of art and design for kids- the way a 3 year old draws his first face and yells in excitement, the way a 13 year old can lose all sarcasm for a moment as she becomes absorbed in collaging. I love the amazing independent toy designers who are creating products that will last for generations. I love seeing little boys in skinny jeans and little girls reading beautifully illustrated picture books. I especially love all of the other adults out there who feel as passionately as I do about this subject, and are adding their projects, products, thoughts and teachings to the mix.

Still with me? This was a long post, so thanks for reading. I hope you’ll leave your comments- and please feel free to join my Google+ group Kid Art and Design. It’s very new, so I’m still trying to set a tone there and get people posting, but I do hope we can have some great conversations there, share tips, projects, ideas, whatever. Come join!

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Comments

  1. says

    Amen!!! I’m really happy you’re doing this blog. I’ve gotten so many ideas from you even in the short time I’ve been following along. I teach art lessons at Elementary schools through a non-profit program where I live. It’s really the best job in the world, even with the sad reality that my one hour a week for 6 weeks is some of the only exposure they get to getting their hands messy and just making art. Keep up the fantastic blog! I look forward to all the inspiration to come!

    • says

      That makes me feel sosososososososo happy to hear things like this! I’m glad you’ve gotten ideas; I’m absolutely impressed with art teachers, battling it out in the classrooms whenever you can. You keep up the good work, too, and thank you for your lovely comment.

  2. says

    This blog is one of my favorites, and has inspired me to be more creative. Thank you for that.

    I loved art class way back in the dark ages when I was in school. It was one of the only classes (other than math) that I felt free and smart and happy.

    My youngest is in elementary school and he has art class once a week and it’s good, but I wish it was more often. The teachers are passionate and they teach techniques and history and artists and connect the lessons to what the children are doing in their other classes. But, here in high school they only have art if they pick that class as an elective. Sigh. With so many other classes to take toward their diploma, art can’t always be an option.

    • says

      I *am* thrilled that there seems to be a push to connect art with what kids are learning in other subjects. Fen’s 4th grade teacher has them do a bunch of arty type projects to reinforce concepts she’s teaching, so that seems positive. Huh, I guess if I can get some adults to add more creativity to their lives, that’s pretty awesome, too!

  3. says

    I love your blog, and I love people who present new ideas that cause us to think about the world and ourselves. Artists in any form do this. I admit that I haven’t nurtured my kids’ artistic abilities via at-home crafts and art projects, but that doesn’t keep them from doing their own projects and filling reams of paper with drawings. We talk about creating a lot, whether it is writing stories or making movies or building whole cities for tiny stuffed animals out of a thousand boxes.

    Art and design ARE important. By the way, making money shoudn’t be the reason kids are given to pursue or neglect something they love. Shame on your second-grade teacher for putting her adult concerns ahead of yours at that age.

    • says

      What a great comment! Thank you. And I think it’s wonderful that at least you provide them with the materials for them to go nuts with and discover their own fun projects. Creativity can take so many forms…

  4. says

    I love this site, Jeanette. Art has always been huge in our house, and thankfully, it is a key part of our schools, as well. My daughter’s high school has an amazing art program that she is heavily involved in (hoping to get into AP Art next year!)
    What you are doing here is important and appreciated.

  5. says

    Oh I just love this! My kids aren’t in school yet, but I feel the very same way and for so many reasons you stated, are the reasons we do so many creative art projects! Well done!

  6. says

    Wonderful post and I couldn’t agree more. I follow looking for ideas for the end of yoga class or for yoga camps. The cross over lessons intrigue me.

    I wonder if you have ever done any art and anatomy projects? We’re making kid size body tracings and glueing in body parts and organs – macaroni for the brain, yarn to measure the size of the intestines. Any thoughts?

    • says

      Wow, you definitely got my brain going. I read this this morning, and I’ve been mulling it over. I absolutely love the project you’re doing already! It makes me want to come enroll in your yoga camp…. Let me think on this concept and I will come up with a special post just for you! Thanks for the idea.

    • says

      Thanks- I love your post on this topic. It’s cool that we posted similar ideas on the same day, but I suppose that’s just because we’re completely brilliant, right?

  7. says

    I love this blog. I felt similarly inspired to start my art program for children at the Library where i work. I overheard so many parents talk about not making art at home because it was too “messy”, or their kids weren’t old enough to “do it right”. It pained me. I wanted to encourage parent to realize how important art is for learning, developing, exploring, and to show them that the process is more important than final product. I am finding other ways to spread this message in the community as well and I find this blog so inspiring. :)

    • says

      I am beyond impressed that you set up an art program at your library. I so love blogging on this topic, and doing projects with my kids, but I would be a mess trying to teach other kids. You are doing a great thing by offering this; especially for kids whose parents find it too messy or intimidating to do this at home. Their kids still need it, and so many parents are freaked out about how to provide it. Yay, you!

  8. says

    I totally love the message of your blog. I think that art and developing intellectually really go hand in hand. All of the scientists I know actually are very artistic as well. I am not one to shy away from an art project with my daughter for fear of a mess. I love to incorporate some kind of project into all of her playdates.

    • says

      That’s pretty cool that you incorporate art projects into her playdates- I did that to an extent with my daughter, but I think I’ll do it more with my son. (When he’s old enough for playdates) Especially since that will be fun to write about. I just really love the connection between science and art and math and art. Thanks for the comment!

  9. says

    I can’t believe your teacher said that! That does make me sad! I think what you are doing here is awesome and I am so inspired by it! Go Artchoo!!!

  10. lex says

    Thank you for this beautifully written post:) I am an artist and also an art teacher in elementary schools. Yes, I am a gypsy with a magical art cart! I am grateful that my cart of tricks at times influence and informs administration and teachers alike that in art…….innovation, creativity, and problem-solving are at the core to its process. An exploratory method to teaching, learning, and discovery of the world and ourselves! I could go on and on about the benefits, but let’s be real the list would go on forever. Thank you Jeannette, wonderful post!

    • says

      You are so sweet! Thank you. Love the idea of the magical art cart; I hope it flies, too. You know, I’m thinking about starting a monthly (?) feature where I ask 3-5 art teachers 1 question to answer. Would you be interested in participating sometime? I’d love to get other voices on here.

  11. says

    I love this post! Every time I read your posts I feel that you are reading my mind… only you say it so much more elegantly. Can I link this post on our website? It is so relevant the message that we are trying to convey with our products.

  12. says

    I just found your blog and am loving it! We clearly share the same passion for nurturing creativity in children! It’s so nice to connect with like minded people!

    I gasped when I read what your second grade teacher said!! Unbelievable!

    • says

      Hi Lina! I’m so glad you found your way over here. Connecting with like-minded people is the most fun part of blogging, isn’t it? Off to check out your site. Thanks for the comment!

  13. says

    Wow – I love your blog! We are in the same boat! I’ve worked for a private art studio for the last 15 years teaching/managing art classes for 2500 people a week. While I am so proud of how many students we reach each week – we are a private art studio. Kids do not get the art they need in schools without after school classes or extra activities. I didn’t even know what WordPress was 2 months ago and I just dove in and started promoting drawing for kids. Kids should all have art – talented or not. Anyone can learn and that’s why I’ve started what I’ve started. Everyone should be creating! I’ve just started and I’m so excited to find a blog like yours… feeling the same way I do.

    • says

      Hi Crystal- I’m so glad you are promoting art for kids here on the big old internet, too! It’s wonderful to meet other art-pushers, and I’m so impressed that you’ve been teaching kids for that long. I love all the independent art classes all over the place, but I’m hoping we’re heading toward a swing in the direction of adding art back into schools again. Fingers crossed…

      • says

        Thanks for the reply Jeanette! I’m happy to join the fellow art-pushers out there on the web too! It’s very sad that our kids can’t get the art in school they should. Families shouldn’t have to seek art education outside of school for something that should be considered as important and basic as reading, writing, math, etc. There is so much research that supports art in schools, yet it falls to wayside first – such a shame. Art helps kids in so many ways academically as well, the list goes on. I’ll fight that battle with you too!

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