Kathryn Bown of Lifelong Learning Family talks to us about the benefits of engaging in art activities with kids. With a PhD and a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood), Kathryn explains that she first considered educating her children at home when her first born was a toddler. Since unschooling her three children (aged 9, 5 and 3 years old), Kathryn is passionate about sharing her perspective on educating without traditional schooling.
“We were drawn to the concept and practice of unschooling. Unschooling honours children’s ability to learn and grow without the need for formal lessons or teachers. Education can still take place in environments that are interesting, safe, nurturing and stimulating. The success of an unschooling approach rests firmly on a foundation of strong, positive relationships between parents and children. Unschooling is a practice of seeing the potential for learning in everything, if life is lived curiously.”
Art can be a beautiful way to connect with your children and provide numerous benefits. Kathryn adds “Art can be a powerful way to convey a message or idea, process internal feelings or emotions, communicate with an audience, and explore deeper parts of our psyche. Therefore art activities can be a powerful learning process for children and adults in therapeutic and experiential ways.”
WHAT IS ART?
“Artistic endeavours can include painting and drawing, weaving and crocheting, sculpting and carving, collage and mosaic. Additionally, the many performing arts such as drama, dance and music. Artistic endeavours are likely to be: creative, imaginative, open-ended, process-oriented, flexible, subjective, and meaningful.”
What are the basics and how do you begin?
“There is no one way you should begin or one set of art supplies you specifically need. The most ‘successful’ experience you can plan for your child is based on something they are already curious about. For instance, if your child is interested in gem stones and crystals, you might begin by sourcing some crystals and display them on a tray. Using some water colour paints, brushes, water colour paper they can start creating.”
WHERE’S THE BEST PLACE TO START?
“If you can, sit alongside or even better, participate with your child in their art activity. Use conversation to explore further and deeper. Delve into their interests by listening to their ideas and observing how they create art. The process can be just as important as the product.”
WE ASKED KATHRYN ABOUT THE BEST PARTS OF UNSCHOOLING, HERE ARE HER BEAUTIFUL WORDS…
“There are no limits on what, when and how you learn, who you learn it with and where you learn it. This creates endless possibilities for both children and adults for living a life where your true interests and passions can be followed. This is liberation, freedom and the most satisfying feeling.”
“Becoming very connected with your children as your relationships grow and change and focussing on living life peacefully and joyfully. However, it usually means moving away from conventional parenting ideas and practices, and relinquishing the notion that parents are authorities over children.”
“There is a lot less stress in our lives as we avoid over-scheduling and work with the rhythms that work for our family. Once you depart from a conventional life, you realise that home life can be whatever you want it to be! A huge weight is lifted when you realise you don’t have to conform to societal expectations.”
“I have more time for ‘myself’, even though I’m with my girls mostly 24/7. Does this seem hard to believe? Some wonderful concepts have helped me to reframe how I can fill my own cup without the need to leave the girls or the house to do so. Lucy AitkinRead writes of ‘sites of mutual fulfilment’ where parents identify places or activities that fulfil both parents and children. This has been a very eye-opening concept and has helped me realise that I can fill my cup alongside my girls or even, that the girls fill my cup.”