My eldest son has a long an undulating history with the pencil. From the time he started nursery and his first teacher said rather apologetically ‘I’m so sorry there’s nothing on the walls as he just doesn’t want to draw, colour or do anything creative…’ and my boy who ‘didn’t do anything creative’ would be busy building away in a corner creating the most amazing models with huge thought over purpose, colour, symmetry, shape and size. No. Apparently he wasn’t being creative at all.
I asked his school if he could bring in some of the amazing models that he had constructed at home. He could talk through why he had built them, what they were to be used for and indeed tell you why every brick had been put where it was. I was told no, they didn’t think it a good idea as the model might get broken and that wouldn’t be good.
I asked if we could have an alternative art gallery where the children could be asked to bring in their best Lego creation and we could display them out the front of the courtyard and let everyone see how wonderful the models were. I was told no, that that sort of thing would be a health and safety nightmare and that was that. My son began his path of ‘I’m not creative…’
It was one of many boxes that my son (and since then children) has not fitted into.
These are the boxes of expectation, those that someone in an office somewhere decided that a 4,5,6 etc year old child should fit snuggly into. It’s a box of expectation as it can be used to both measure the child but also the school now as a qualified teacher I totally understand that children, at some point, and schools need to be measured. I have taught with some amazing teachers but I have also worked with some teachers who are not so good and there are those few that you’re not even sure if they actually like children or not.
Schools do need to be measured but not at the expense of the children.
Not at the expense of spontaneity, creativity, play and time.
Time is what is needed to experiment and find out what floats your boat or tickles your brain and it’s time that my children just didn’t have as little people in nurseries and schools.
The rigid box seems to define who they should be but, perhaps, not who they are…
It was with great smirking that Hubbie and I found ourselves sticking together 20 odd A4 sheets of paper trying to match the lines together so the design fitted perfectly. No mean feat really as it’s much harder than it sounds.
It’s the latest activity that the ‘Elf on the Shelf’ has left for the boys and all throughout our cutting and sticking we were talking about how much Tobes would love the huge colouring in opportunity and how he would be so excited to see such a huge arty project to have a go and complete.
He’s our arty boy. The one who experiments, makes, creates on a prolific scale that he’d give Picasso (the most prolific artist in the world according to Guinness Book of Records) a run for his money. He can be found in a corner, at the kitchen table, on a sewing machine (he’s 6 and can use a vintage sewing machine very much like a pro) or in his bedroom he’s beavering away and the art that he’s generated fills our house and his room, and the car…
Here’s the giant colouring in sheet all stuck and Elf has even started in the corner.
Hubbie and I talked about where to put the huge sheet and we decided that on the floor would be more accessible for all the boys but we would have to ‘supervise’ the 20 month old little girl as although her scribblings with her fat wax crayons would be very welcome we didn’t want her to accidentally rip the picture as that would be upsetting for all.
We put the paper into position,
turned the lights out and went to bed.
I was woken by the boys moving about the house and Florie, the 20 month old shouting from her cot so I got out of bed, collected the baby and went downstairs.
To say I was surprised is a bit of an understatement as it wasn’t my arty, farty boy Tobes colouring…
My, apparently, non-creative boy.
He’d been there a while, so he told me, and he was very chilled, very happy and colouring in.
It just shows how easy it is to put your child in a box however metaphorical. Hubbie and I had done this the previous evening when we assumed that this activity wouldn’t be for Oliver (or Henry) and we’d talked about how on earth we’d get it all finished. There poses another question I see though, does it matter if it isn’t finished and could ‘finished’ be actually half finished? I’m not sure but because we all have totally different brains and ways of thinking and working in our family it is something that’s always an issue that’s hotly debated.
Our family will have no boxes and that goes for adults and also children. I don’t have to always be the rubbish one when it comes to technology, Hubbie can start to be a bit more practical and the boys can now have a go at anything no matter if it seems to hard, not age appropriate (obviously for age rating activities these will still stay) or not what-we-do.
I do wonder how the colouring in page will progress but it’s already been an eye opener…
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If you’d like your own giant colouring in page you can download it here.