Today we’re going to be talking with Nathan and Joy Clarkson about Growing Imaginative Kids. But first, let’s talk about children and organized activities. Why? Because too many activities limit how much time kids have to be creative. How many activities are too much, and which ones are right for your children? What’s really important for them and for us?
Growing Imaginative Kids
As parents, we genuinely want our children to have the best of everything. The problem arises when what we think is “best” for our children is different from what their Maker designed. Sometimes we just do too much.
My two oldest children loved books and movies, drama, giving speeches, and music. But, looking back, I can see how many years I wasted trying to make them participate in the activities that all the other kids were doing.
My third oldest loved to make up creative stories, and then he and his friends acted out these adventures with their Beanie Babies. How sad it makes me now to think of the countless hours he spent mindlessly maneuvering around the basketball court, following the coach’s orders … yet he hated it. I forced him to sign up “for socialization and exercise,” I told myself. I realize now he could have received both by running around the front yard with his friends, leading them on fanciful adventures. (By the way as an adult he writes books, creates games, and tests computer programs for work).
When designing our children, God did not create empty vessels. It’s not our job to fill them, form their personalities, and insert creativity or skill into their brains. Instead, God designed our children and turned them over to us to mold into the shape He’s already crafted. We need to become students of our children and discover their unique shapes. We also need to give them time to be children and not fill up every spare moment with planned activities. It’s important to give them time to explore or create.
Here are questions to ask yourself:
-Why am I signing my child up for this activity?
-Am I doing it so my child won’t be left out?
-Have I asked God His thoughts?
-Does this activity fit in with my child’s natural talents?
-Does this activity accomplish peace in our household?
When I first started homeschooling my three kids (ages six, three, and one) in 1995, I thought my life from that moment would always be about homeschooling. I pictured my time shaping my children’s education. But, I didn’t know that over the years, God would call me to follow my dreams … and that my kids would benefit from that. Yes, God wants us to explore and create too–to discover our unique designs.
At first, I felt guilty following my dreams to write. I’d homeschool in the morning, and then in the afternoon, I’d set aside a few hours to write while my children played. In those early years, I wrote articles and ideas for novels as Barney played television.
Guilt weighed me down as if Barney the dinosaur sat on my shoulders, and I was sure I was the worst homeschooling mother ever. Then, I swung the other way and became over-committed to combat my guilt, making frequent library trips, signing my daughter up for dance lessons and my boys up for sports. It was my husband who urged me to stop the madness.
Over the months to come, we figured out our priorities:
-To provide a godly education for our kids
-To sign up each child for one extra-curricular activity a year
-To have dinner time as a family
-To train our children how to be part of the family unit and do chores
-To connect and serve in our local church
-To have reading time together as a family at night
-To see what God was doing in our lives and follow Him
These are still our priorities twenty years and seven more kids later!
As I helped my kids discover their dreams I also discovered mine. As the years passed, I started getting published. With each new writing project, I argued, “Lord, what about this homeschooling thing?” Yes, I was still spending 3-4 hours homeschooling every day, but I’d look around and see my friends pouring 100% of their lives into their kids. Were my kids getting the short end of the stick?
Over time I began to see how following my dreams benefited my children. They traveled with me for research. They met WWII veterans I interviewed. They met other cool people, and they made friends around the US.
As a mom, I didn’t need to teach my kids that we should follow God’s dreams for us and work hard to share His truth with others. They saw that lived out daily. Yes, God asked me to follow my dreams for the readers I served and my kids.
But as the days passed into months and months to years, I started to notice a few things:
-My kids were playing outside when other kids were stuck in desks all day.
-My kids truly loved learning and viewed the world as their classroom. They loved the Lord and were excited to serve Him.
-These kids raised at home weren’t socially awkward. They loved talking to adults and could strike up a conversation with anyone anywhere.
I felt like I knew my kids–KNEW them. I was confident I could give them the individual attention they needed to be successful. Homeschooling had made it possible for me to reach them despite their different levels, abilities, and challenges.
Not only that, but I found I did have time for myself–time to write and publish books, serve moms in my community, and host a podcast.
So, yes, we need to give our kids time and space to create, and we also need to do the same. And, as you will see from today’s guests, our kids will learn to do as we do. And that’s what I’m talking about with today’s guests Nathan and Joy Clarkson.
Nathan Clarkson is an author, actor, indie film producer, poet, and artist. His travels have taken him around the world, where he shares his life with others to tell a bigger story of God’s love.
Joy Clarkson is a scholar, author, podcaster, and storyteller. She holds degrees from Biola University in California and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
You’re going to love to hear about their new book and how we can help kids explore their gifts and expand their imaginations.
Scripture to ponder
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. Psalm 139:14
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Mentioned in This Episode
The Clubhouse: Open the Door to Limitless Adventure | Nathan and Joy Clarkson
Educating the Wholehearted Child | Sally Clarkson
Different | Sally Clarkson & Nathan Clarkson
Connect with Nathan Clarkson
Connect with Joy Clarkson
Connect with Tricia