Let your kids play

My youngest, who recently turned five, loves to draw and colour. She started when she was about three and to this day spends a few hours daily doodling and creating things. I've always let her colour, more or less at will. She has to show up and pay attention to lessons during homeschooling, but otherwise she's free to colour whenever she has a spare moment.

I don't try to teach her how to draw. I don't try to direct her. I just sharpen her pencils and give her sheets of paper and notebooks. The last few months she started writing her own comic books. On every page there is a scene from a story she's made up, with characters talking and everything. The plots are pretty simple, and the spelling is sometimes a touch unorthodox, but, um, did I mention she only just recently turned five?

This is what she did today. The cover page and the cover art for her newest book. It's about a boy named Diego who kind of resembles Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. His adventures are silly, but they are not random. There is a story to them. A simple story to be sure, but hey.

Yes, of course I'm proud of her. She reads at grade 3 level and she writes her own illustrated stories. Duh! She makes homeschooling look pretty good, right? But that doesn't make her (or my homeschooling) very special. We didn't do anything in particular to foster that talent in her, other than read to her (a lot), answer her spelling questions and give her time, space and supplies to practice her art unsupervised. She doesn't play video games or watch television. She just draws. And draws and draws and draws.

Not every kid is destined to be a visual artist. But every child has a special talent he could develop if only he had time and space to practice - without supervision, without endless rules to follow, just some time and space to be the best he can be at whatever makes him tick. Too many parents think they need to enroll their children in all kinds of classes to give them opportunities to learn things and develop their talents. That's mostly nonsense - and expensive nonsense at that. What kids need is the time and space to figure out what they're really keen on.

Time. Give your kids time. Gloriously unsupervised time. And watch them blossom.

Being an artist and a mother - hey, that's me!

Of course school should start later - duh!