Creative Child

Kids Love Their Space to Learn and Create

Alisa E. Clark

In our basement is a place for our kids to learn and create. It's not a fancy space, but it's practical, spacious and kid friendly. A kids' art and craft desk, a computer just for children, a piano keyboard, a bucket of instruments, an easel, and two kids' tables with kid sized chairs fill the space. The floor underneath our "Learn and Create Space" is linoleum that holds up well against spills and abuse. Messes can be made here and explorations are welcome. It a good place for noisy play too. Our "Learn and Create Space" welcomes children to come, play and discover.

We call this basement space the "Art Area," but a lot more than art is made here.

The art easel is used to play school, our kid's computer teaches keyboarding, the art desk sets the stage for creative exploration, a band plays using the available instruments, and the kid's table and chairs are perfect for crafting and other projects.

Once I filled the space my kids moved right in and began to play. Today, it's a "hot spot" in our home. Everyone small loves to do what they do best in our "Art Area."

When I was a kid I lived at the kitchen table. I liked the space the kitchen table gave me. I could go back and forth between activities there. At one end of the table would sit some test questions that needed review. At the other end a watercolor painting might be drying. More towards the middle of the table an afternoon snack would, perhaps, sit half consumed.

I was a kid, so my stuff had a way of spreading like spilled milk. By the end of the day the table was often buried in all my projects. I'm lucky my parents tolerated my tendency to spread out. The freedom to fill the kitchen, with all the activities for the day, allowed me a greater opportunity to learn and create.

I am thankful that my parents allowed me to take over the kitchen table.

Today I like to offer my own children the same freedoms. This is pretty easy since there are so many new ways to set up a space that's just right for busy kids. My favorite new space maker is a kid's table and chairs. Children don't have to prop themselves at the kitchen table, or sit on their knees anymore. These tables are just the right size for comfortable sitting. The kid's tables are just the right height for a child, and chairs that are "just right" are easy to find. Today you can find matching table and chair sets, or you can mix and match if you prefer. You can also bring home a child sized kidney shaped table just like the ones in a preschool classroom. These tables are just the right height for children and they have loads of space for multiple projects and chairs that match are readily available. You'd be amazed at the options that are out there.

When I set up a space for our kids to learn and create I was deliberate.

I considered everything I had learned about kids, because I wanted to give my own kids a really good place to grow. I traveled back to my undergraduate years, when I studied art and education, and I thought about what I had learned about environments that fostered creativity. I visited my graduate school days when I read text books filled with suggestions for helping kids learn to read and develop their basic academic skills. I reflected on the many classrooms that I taught within.

I remembered the spaces I created for students and I remembered the students that filled the spaces. I drew on my own experiences as a teacher and a creative person. I pulled all of this knowledge together to make the perfect space for my own children to learn and create. There's never been a day that I've regretted the energy and resources I tapped into to make our "Art Area." My kids love their "Create and Learn Space" and they use it every day. It's just perfect for them.

As I sit at my computer I can look at all the evidence.

It's the evidence that my kids are learning and creating. Their art desk is covered in paper airplanes, buttons glued to construction paper, pipe cleaners loaded with beads, and feathers poked into a three inch diameter Styrofoam ball. The art easel is dressed with a newsprint pad that is opened to a drawing of stick figure people playing roller hockey.

There's also a table, about two feet high, that's stacked with unfinished crafts that will soon get attention. A little chair sits and waits for someone to fill it. It won't take long before someone does fill it, because my kids can't wait to use their space to learn and create. They know it's just perfect for them, because they're the ones that use it and they're the ones that love it.

Take some time to make a "Learn and Create Space" for your children. You're children will love it and they'll use it. It's an investment you won't regret, and it will bring a lifetime of returns.

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