Create the opportunities for your kids to grow and shine

Hi everyone, I can’t believe we are now into July!! It’s going so fast!

This week I’m slightly exhausted but buzzing from helping out and then watching the fantastic Rebel show this weekend at Lawrence Batley Theatre.

Both our children performed, and watching almost 200 others on the stage too is an incredibly emotional experience, because we know all the work that’s gone into it from the teachers, the organisers, the helpers and all the parents getting the kids to rehearsals and also the costumes (which is a task in itself!).

There was a child who’d had surgery on his arm just 2 days before and was dosed up on pain killers, a boy who was missing his uncle’s wedding and so many kids (many tiny ones) doing their absolute best in such hot conditions back stage, I’m amazed they all didn’t melt let alone give such energetic performances.

I helped out back stage on Saturday and it’s chaos, many kids have quick changes into their next act, everyone’s running around, the atmosphere electric and there are some hairy moments, but out front in the audience you’d never know the whirlwind going on behind the scenes!

We then took our turn in the audience yesterday and loved every minute, particularly the ‘Bring on Tomorrow’ song from Fame which my son was in (I love that song, I was filling up!) and then the whole finale of Spice Girls songs medley, started off by a girl singing an a capella version of Viva Forever, now also downloaded onto my play-list!

Both our kids have now been involved with Rebel for over 5 years now and we’ve watched them grow in confidence and really love being involved in such a huge family of children and teachers who are so passionate about what they do and it really shows when you get to see for yourself what they do in class.

All the effort it sometimes takes as parents, shipping them about from activity to activity is so worth it when you see what they learn from these classes, important qualities such as respect, encouragement, enthusiasm and shear hard work to master the steps, a song or a scene and making sure they work together to make it the best it can be.

And, of course it takes a lot of guts to get up on stage in-front of a packed audience! (I wouldn’t dare!).

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‘It’s not always about being the best but doing your best’

Rebel’s motto brings out the best in all the children and encourages them to work hard for their dreams.

Anyway, this is not just a post about just this weekend, but more about how I feel it’s so important to encourage creative pass-times for children, whether that be singing, dancing, acting, cooking, art, reading or writing stories. It’s in these kinds of environments that children can share their ideas and imagination, figure out problems and try things out without any worries of getting something wrong, it’s all a big experiment and finding out what works and learning from that.

In a world where our constant challenge as parents is how to limit screen time, this can be a weapon in our armour, but something they equally enjoy too.

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Simple things like making pizza and choosing toppings gets them involved in something different to the usual form of entertainment.

So, what’s the science behind it? Let’s take a look at art as an example (taken from this article on parents.com)

Fostering creativity won’t just increase your child’s chances of becoming the next Picasso. You’re also helping him develop mentally, socially, and emotionally, says Ecklund-Flores. Creating art may boost young children’s ability to analyse and problem-solve in myriad ways, according to Mary Ann F. Kohl, author of Primary Art: It’s the Process, Not the Product.

As kids manipulate a paintbrush, their fine motor skills improve. By counting pieces and colours, they learn the basics of math. When children experiment with materials, they dabble in science. Most important perhaps, when kids feel good while they are creating, art helps boost self-confidence. And children who feel able to experiment and to make mistakes feel free to invent new ways of thinking, which extends well beyond the craft room.

And that’s just the start, there are so many benefits to children being creative I can’t shout loudly enough about it! So instead I’ve broken down what I think the key benefits are below;

  • It teaches them to be expressive and use their emotions

In particular, in classes such as acting, dancing and singing, it’s all about conveying that emotion to the audience, so they’re initial way of interpreting it ends up being bolder and more expansive, guided and encouraged by their teachers. It teaches them to dare to go there, without fear of being laughed at, or to un-tap what they really want to do, for example, throw a joke into a dramatic piece because that is part of their personality.

This really worked for me ‘shy’ daughter when she was young because she soon realised that all the kids were doing this, it was normal, and therefore nobody laughed or thought it unusual, they’re a part of something that is enjoyable and fun – they end up not taking themselves so seriously or worrying about what others may think.

  • Mistakes are ok – paint for the bin

Mistakes, in art for example, are more than ok, it’s how we learn. If they’ve never used watercolour or acrylic paint before, they’ll have no idea how differently they behave, but that’s all part of the experiment and working out what each type of material’s magic quality is.

‘Paint for the bin’ was the best piece of artistic advice I’ve ever been given, and may help when dealing with nervous children, let them experiment, knowing it’s just for them to see what happens and will head for the bin and then when they’ve learned how paint or pencils or pastel works on paper and thought about what picture they’d really like to create, they’ll be even more chuffed with they’re final results.

  • It builds resilience and encourages teamwork
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den building

A great example of this is letting children work together in a team to build a den in the woods. They have to gather wood, work out the best place to put it and start laying the pieces. It will take time and patience to work out what goes where, what will balance, and then what will fall down (hopefully not on their heads) and they’ll have to re-do.

Then there’s added personal touches to make it their own; will they add a carved logo, a leafed roof, a bunker to hide in, a secret door, a club flag on a branch? All part of the fun and letting their imagination run wild.

  • A huge sense of pride

Whether it’s finishing that den, after hours of work and knowing it’s yours and our friends, putting your beautiful picture in a frame in your room, playing an instrumental piece and getting all the notes correct, overcoming stage-fright, remembering all of your lines, or the thrill and exhilaration of being on stage, the list is endless, and I’m sure for teenagers especially, those feelings and memories will last a whole lot longer than how many Instagram post likes they got that day (although they may share that sense of pride on there, which I think is allowed!)

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The post my daughter shared in costume for her first number, filtered and pouting of course because that’s what teenagers do!

  • An extra conversation topic, for all the family

This is not to be underestimated! How many parents out there of children, I’d say aged 9 and above, struggle to get any conversation out of them about their day or life in general?

At a certain age school becomes a boring topic for our children, there’s not usually much new to say, unless a teacher got locked in the loo, so it’s useful to have something new to discuss and be excited about!

The show is pretty much all we’ve talked about for the last few weeks, their excitement, their nerves, the costumes, the snacks to take (food is always in there somewhere), the hairstyles, the timings, etc etc you get the picture….but that excitement is catching, gets the whole family involved and means it becomes a great family memory to be talked about in years to come.

  • It can discover talent and lead to amazing opportunities

Not every child is great at sport and yet so much emphasis is put into this at school and at home. Wouldn’t it be great if creative opportunities and skills got an equal look-in too?

Not every child is going to find their place in a sporting team or hobby and it’s important that we don’t close off other opportunities to them.

If they show an interest in creative subjects or even if they don’t at first (mainly because it’s something that’s never been thought of before), it’s key that we open up these avenues, because it might be just what they need.

I know a girl that seems incredibly quiet and shy and yet she is an amazing artist, who presents her skills online and even does tutorials, but you would never guess that she would have the confidence to do that – it’s her passion in art that gives her that confidence – it’s her super power.

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One of Katie’s amazing portraits, see her Instagram account here

Through his love of his Rebel classes in musical theatre, drama and singing, and working hard, my son has been signed up to Rebel’s casting agency and has had some brilliant opportunities, working as an extra on Emmerdale, Peaky Blinders, Shop Smart Save Money, a film – Walk Like a Panther and this year toured with Opera North’s ‘The Magic Flute’ production – all amazing experiences with memories he’ll treasure forever and he wouldn’t have gotten those opportunities, had we not found and encouraged his creative passions.

The Rebel Team have then nurtured that interest and given him all the confidence and skills he needed to love what he does and keep improving.

My daughter’s the sporty one, swimming for Borough of Kirklees swimming club 6 days a week – she found her lane and is committed like crazy to be getting up all hours to swim but she still also does Rebel, loving the dancing aspect, learning the routines and enjoying her creative expression through dance.

I’m so glad that my son found his super-power too and that they both absolutely love what they do – ultimately that’s what it’s all about.

  • Sing, loud, anywhere, and especially in the car

Ok, that’s not a benefit, it’s a command! But my point is, use up dead time to do something creative and singing is a really easy one. I’ve yet to find a child who hate’s music.

When my kids are grumpy or arguing in the back seat, the only thing that works, for us all including my stress levels, is to put the music on loud and sing our hearts out – you just can’t feel grumpy or cross after that!

It works equally in the kitchen when waiting for dinner or in the background when they are doing homework – it’s a far more chilled environment for them, providing they can still concentrate of course!

  • Finally, doing anything creative is relaxing and mindful

Children these days have a lot to think about, they’re minds are mostly ‘switched on’ learning at school, homework, multi-tasking between TV and other screens and it can leave them either ‘wired’ or over-tired.

Obviously getting outside and doing exercise either at home or via a hobby is equally important in all of this and for creativity too but then if you can also encourage some creativity at least a few times each week it will really help them switch off their minds, relax and slow-down and foster a better night’s sleep too.

Reading rates for children at home are down significantly as they become more drawn to Aps and YouTube as a source of entertainment but again I couldn’t shout this from the roof tops louder – reading is sooooo important for your children and has a whole host of benefits which are aptly described here via a LifeHacks.org and although written for adults is also pertinent for children too.

Also, Clare Mackintosh shared a really useful link on her post today too about how to encourage children to read more, see here.

And what better way to end a day than to drift off on the imagination of someone’s story creation and picture it in your own unique way?

On that note, guess how fabulous Clare Mackintosh’s new book ‘After the end’ is?

Answer – very! Lead by example, have books around the house and go grab a book and read! Ok, bossiness over but hopefully you get my point?

I hope you’ve found this interesting and food for thought, as always I’d love your feedback as it really helps me to know if I’m hitting the mark or not, please do comment below and let me know your thoughts, thank you.

Until next time…

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

P.s I have just two spaces left for my next writing workshop on Wednesday 10th of July, click here to find out more and register your interest.

PPs – Don’t forget the next WOW Wednesday is this week! Click here for more info on this fab local catch-up!

One Comment on “Create the opportunities for your kids to grow and shine

  1. I couldn’t agree more, creativity has been a real mind-saver for me in my adult life and I believe it is one of the few ways left that our children can act and feel like the kids that they are. If we give them the tools and encouragement to flourish creatively when young then hopefully they will have those skills forever in order to lead a happier, more well rounded and fulfilling life.

    Lovely blog post xxx

    Like

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