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Caring For Creativity

You might be thinking, what does “caring for creativity” even mean?

Well, just as you need to care for your physical self and emotional self, you need to nurture your creative self. And many of the principles applied to the first two are the same for the third.

Arts-integrated educators understand this basic tenet and incorporate it into their teachings. 

Caring for Creativity Starts With Self-Compassion

It’s all too easy to get stuck in a creative rut. If you’re an artist, you know this is part of the process. The internal critic starts saying terrible things you wouldn’t say to your worst enemy. And your creativity goes out the window.

That’s why self-compassion is so important. It’s essential to enhance creativity. But self-compassion is its own art form. And it takes time to develop. 

For younger artists who haven’t experienced the despair of being in a rut, being armed with self-compassion can be the difference between exploring new paths and quitting altogether. This is well established in arts academy schools where students understand that they can change the stories they tell themselves.  

How do educators emphasize this? By teaching the following:

1. Be Willing to Explore

Arts-integration educators help students move out of their comfort zones and have the courage to explore different ways to look at the world. For example, they show students how art and science have a lot in common. Both raise questions, push the envelope, and embrace failure as a means to learn.

In doing so, young artists learn to develop innovative ideas and solutions. They understand that the first run (or even the first 20 runs) will likely not garner the results they desire. But it will deliver new perspectives. 

Arts-integrated schools take this one step further by teaching art through science (as well as other subjects) – allowing students’ ideas to move beyond the studio and into other arenas. It’s the ultimate in exploration.

2. Stretch (The Imagination)

The physical body needs stretching before and after exercise. In the same vein, the creative self benefits from regularly stretching the imagination. Accessing the playfulness of a child and seeing everything as a possibility does wonders for one’s art.

It’s crucial that artists have the flexibility to think outside the box. Sometimes WAY outside the box. To gain a new perspective, they might crawl up into a tree or hang upside down off the side of a bed. They must also be curious. 

Young artists who learn how to be mindful and are able to lay back and allow their minds to roam have an invaluable tool at their hands. Although this requires a temporary vacation from books, electronics, and other external sources, it’s a shortcut to the imagination and enables it to fully take flight.

3. Try Creative Cross-Training

Yep, another physical exercise metaphor here.

Cross-training in fitness aims to reduce strain (and boredom) from using the same muscles all the time. It introduces different forms of movement that target different areas of the body and stimulate the mind in different ways.

Creative cross-training does the same thing. 

Most artists specialize in one or two areas. Perhaps it’s painting. Or music. Maybe both. But without varying the routine every so often, the mind can grow weary. Giving young artists the permission (and agency) to venture into other mediums boosts their creative thinking. A painter may flex his sculpting muscles, or a writer may give dance a try. They don’t have to be particularly good at these other forms. 

Just the act of exploring new modes of expression will increase their interest in their current medium. It can be just the inspiration required to get out of a rut. 

4. Seek Value from Dreaming

By now, we all know the importance of getting enough sleep. Yet, many adults don’t make sleep a priority. For teenagers, the situation can be even worse.

But not getting enough sleep or giving the mind space to dream can cause creativity to take a hit. Dreams are one of the mind’s stress-releasing tools. (Less stress equals more imagination.) They can also be a gold mine for ideas and inspiration. And it’s not just the dreams you have when sleeping.

As mentioned above, allowing time each day to let the mind wander and to daydream is also therapeutic in caring for creativity. So arts educators will often stress this – encouraging students to keep dream journals so they can jot down feelings and sensations right after they happen.

5. Look at Art

Finally, there will just be times as an artist when creativity is blocked. No matter what the reason, it sucks. 

One of the best ways to keep creativity flowing is by observing art. Doing so activates mirror neurons and can get the engine started again. Add in the simple act of just doodling, pushing around some paint, or tinkering on an instrument without a specific goal or judgment, and anything is possible. 

Ready to Explore Arts-Integrated Education?

With so much focus on STEM education, caring for creativity isn’t at the top of the list for most school curriculums.

So if you have an artistic child who isn’t benefiting from conventional education, then it’s time to consider how they might thrive with an arts-integrated education.

Contact us today to take a tour of our school. It could be the best thing you ever do for your kid.


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