Saturday, February 2, 2013

Frugal Parenting: Reading Young at Art

Last weekend a book was mentioned in my book club (it has a twist, we talk about what we've been reading, not just one book.  Great way to learn about new authors, etc.), and I went home and requested it from the library.  If frugal parenting, or simplicity parenting appeals to you (or if you have nieces/nephews or grandchildren) I recommend taking a look.

Young at Art: Teaching toddlers self-expression, problem-solving skills, and an appreciation for art by Susan Striker was described as follows by my fellow book club member. "It's judgmental, opinionated, and I loved it!"  And so did I.  Over 13 chapters she gives direct advice on how to instill creativity in children via drawing, painting, sculpture, etc.  It ends with resource lists, etc.  My only dislike was that it stops at age 4, and my children are already 4 and 2.

Reading it made me feel rather proud.  Apparently my frugal parenting techniques align with her technique for building creativity.  For example:

  • We framed two huge cardboard paintings our children completed this last summer -- they hang prominently in our dining room.  And several people assumed they were "modern" art.  Nope, just a frugal mom wanting something for a huge wall;
  • Using kids artwork for holiday and birthday cards.  We've been doing that for several years!  Cuts costs, maximizes use of supplies, and is unique; and
  • Taking children to museums, allowing them to look around and tell you what they see.  A personal favorite of mine is the Milwaukee Art Museum, where we are members.  An annual fee of $79 gets our family of four in for free.  There are three major exhibits a year, which we make a point to drive down and see.  We spend 15 minutes looking at art.  A bit of my life pre-parent returns to me, the kids learn how to conduct themselves in an exhibit, and we only bother serious viewers for a little amount of time.  Afterwards we go to the Kohl's Art Center, in the museum, that is staffed and has several hands on art projects for children.  Hands down, a much better experience than the amazing Children's museums we have in Madison and Milwaukee.
So, if frugal and creative are your goals with young ones, check out this book.  I won't buy it for our own shelves, but it is nice to know it is free from the library.  It might make a nice gift to an expectant parent.  There is a lot of advice on really little babies and one year olds.....ages that are in our past now.

M. Gustafson Gervasi, 2012, -- writer's family enjoying the Kohl's Art Studio

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