School at Home: Inspiring Creativity and Finding Purpose
My reading of late has led me on a personal quest. As I read the works of Van Gogh, Rilke, William Blake, Suzuki and others I feel a thirst to discover what within my own soul is meant to be shared with the world. Am I to write, draw, build, speak out, or support the work of others? Where will the individual inspiration come from?
The source for this inspiration has been given many names: muse, zeitgeist, solitude, the Holy Ghost and others. Perhaps whatever the name the help is simply a gift from Above. For me, it is a process of merging my will and abilities with heaven’s universal objectives. This quest has given a deeper meaning and purpose to my daily pursuits and my long-term goals.
For centuries creatives have endeavored to express what leads them to their cause, motivates the effort required and inspires the outcome. Each one relates processes as unique as their work itself. Identifying my unique process of creativity feels as important as identifying my form of art. As a father, having only recently discovered this pursuit, I feel a deep yearning to help my children discover the divine within them much earlier. Age doesn’t seem to matter but timing is everything. Could I help them discover the unique creativity within them earlier? Would this inform their educational pursuits and enhance the successful application of their gifts and talents.
This moment in the history of the world or simply today seems like the perfect jumpstart to creativity. More of us are at home, certainly more of our children are. Now feels like the right moment to open up the creative floodgates of both parents and children to ensure a bright future and a modern renaissance of creativity and meaning. In fact, I believe this moment is of divine design.
We have taken this pursuit seriously in our own homes and have curated a collection of resources we are using and hope it will inspire your approach. We call this collection School at Home and hope you find it both helpful and pleasing.
Here are some of my favorites and a bit about why.
Oh, blessed play. From my observation, play is a child’s social and cognitive superfood. Talk about a jumpstart to creativity. Life-long learning should be natural and fun. Play is at the core of this. Play can be rambunctious and interactive. Play can also be quiet and solitary. Engaging in play with the right tools and relationships seems to be the earliest endeavor to observe a child’s innate interests and abilities.
Kubb: Strategy and gentle conflict resolution in the great outdoors
Bug and Bird Bingo: simple competition with the bonus of learning
Language Blocks: Early exposure to different languages and building/balance
Molkky: Simple addition and subtraction along with hand-eye coordination
We all know the importance of reading. Reading aloud, bedtime stories, and the quick distraction while hair is combed or fingernails are trimmed make some of the most ordinary and sometime begrudged work suddenly enjoyable and memorable. Recently my wife and I have discovered some unique books that have given new dimension to our efforts as parents, less from a self help or counseling perspective but more from a methodological tool kit approach. We feel empowered. We have also included some of the books we watched our kids get lost in.
For the kids:
This is…by Miroslav Sasek will allow you to travel the world many times over from the coziness of your own couch.
Alain Gree: Illustrated in the 60's and 70's in France this timeless collection of vocabulary books, flashcards and activity books is a household staple.
Shackleton's Journey: One of the very best and beautiful infographic books about an enduring real adventure.
For the Parents:
Early Riser Companion: a collection of ideas to inspire sweet moments
Montessori Toddler: a clear and delighfully illustrated guide on an optimistic approach to toddlerhood
Forest School: Simple ways to make the most of your time together in nature
Teaching children to enjoy work is one of the ultimate challenges. Of course, like us they will feel best if they see both progress and natural positive outcomes from their work. Learning to imitate work as play is a wonderful next step. The only other thought I have here is that working together as a family has been infinitely better for us than trying to divide and conquer.
Mud Kitchen: Improvisation and sensory engagement blended with European playground quality
Wooden Food: Imagination and imitation of kitchen escapes imported because they are just that much sweeter and true to life.
Wooden Sorting and Matching: Stacking, counting and endless possibilities for color theory and mathematical development.
Garden Tools: We have some garden tools that simply looking at them improves both my motivation and my endurance.
So much of our learning comes from observation, appreciation and imitation. My goal this year is to deepen the level we observe. Close our eyes and touch a tree. Put a discarded butterfly wing under a microscope. Get our hands in the cookie dough. More cloud formation games. All of this with the intent to see through my children's eyes and observe to see what brings them energy and joy.
Wunderkammen: These beautiful framed insects are a favorite around the shop, at home and especially with the kids.
Sand Art: Some things take time. Learn about erosion, suspension of particles and geology while reading a story or singing a lullaby.
Huckleberry: One of our favorite collections for bug collecting, flower gathering or generally bringing the world close.
Forest Mushroom and Dozen Egg Basket: Will keep you swooning over the natural world and your kids will learn to forage and appreciate the world around them.
Weatherman Gadgets: Beautiful tools that make you feel like a real scientist a hundred years ago.
Some of my very favorite things in the store are listed here. Why? Because a true heirloom invites the owner or casual observer to look deeper into the nature of its creation, enhances the interactions of the user, or tells a story that is greater than itself. Each of these things require some interaction which is what truly makes all the difference. Providing the environment is the first step and then choosing to observe, respond and engage in the creative development of those around you, including yourself, will bring deeper satisfaction and meaning into the slow days we seem to have more and more of.
Who knows, you might be the next Van Gogh, or even better the next Van Gogh's inspiring parent.