After school enrichment programs have become part of the fall-out of a failing economy. And with them, so goes the effort to foster creativity in today’s generation of children.
The loss of funding for what those in charge deem unimportant could mean that potentially millions of children will lose the fine art of how to be creative, an important life-skill. Another downside is that they most often are left alone after school in the hours once filled by enrichment programs, opening the door to becoming a couch potato, falling into the wrong crowd of friends or exploring things on the Internet that are simply not healthy for young minds.
I recently asked some of our neighbors what they were doing to encourage creativity in their children. Their answers were varied but all agreed that creativity should never be viewed as only an extracurricular activity.
Rosalinda Gomez, Hammond: When my daughter was old enough to write, I bought her a diary with feathers and sparkles on the cover. Then I encouraged her to write something in it each day. At first I needed to talk her through the day so she could decide what to write about but now she’s faithful. Part of the agreement is that I don’t look at her diary unless I’m invited. I’ve kept that promise over the years. Now she’s 16 and has gone through several books but she often shares her poems and writings with me.
Jenny Ross, Dyer: The best thing I did was send my son to an acting class. He was always a shy boy and it’s helped him come out of his shell by pretending to be whatever character he’s working on at the moment. His teachers have all noticed a change for the positive so it’s been worth the money.
Simon Bartlett, Schererville: When my daughter started piano lessons, my wife and I would often hear her humming a song. When asked, she’d say it was just something playing in her head so we encouraged her to work with her instructor and learn how to write music. She’s only 13 but has already written at least three songs. Even if she never publishes, she has the thrill of knowing that she has created something of beauty through her own efforts.
Caroline Stein, Munster: My son and I took an art class together a while back through our parks system and it was great. Neither one of us was any good but we learned and laughed together. He still sketches with colored pencils, especially when we go on vacation, for his own enjoyment.
Cameron Matteson, Schererville: I let my boys decorate their bedroom the way they wanted. Dark purple and bright green wouldn’t have been my first picks but they seem proud of the big wide stripes they envisioned. Now they’re discussing pictures and posters to match. They might hate it in two years but it was what their creativity spoke to them right now.
Beth Reyna, Crown Point: I bought my daughter a disposable point-and-shoot camera for her birthday a few years back and she loved it. She’s read up on photography and studies pictures in books and the papers so we’ll probably be getting her a digital camera for Christmas this year. It’s important to encourage children when they show an interest in creating, no matter the medium.