Academic success is essential, and so, despite our schools’ best efforts to share the joys of creativity and artistic pursuits, families focus on school work, especially with these students who struggle more than most, investing in tutors and spending many hours studying, trying to keep up. I made this mistake with my own daughter.
I am an artist, so drawing and painting have always provided a refuge for me. Life’s challenges are easier to bear when a pencil and scrap of paper hold the possibility of a new world, a world where I am the creator. I can escape to a place where I’m not subject to the whims of people I don’t always understand.
My daughter, Kyrie, attended a school for children with learning disabilities, and we remember her time there fondly. However, I was so focused on her success in school that we spent hours each night and on weekends doing homework, throughout her elementary years and on into high school. Before she started school, Kyrie showed early artistic talent but once she started school, there was no time to spend on such frivolity, certainly not until she mastered her “real” subjects.
If I could go back and correct my mistake, I would never have focused so much on schoolwork. I would instead insist on time to explore and create, because these skills will serve Kyrie well wherever life takes her. We think, “They can always come back to art once they’ve finished school.” But these children may not have the necessary marks to enter a post-secondary arts program, and adult classes can be intimidating for a young adult without even experience acquired on their own.
I can’t go back in time, but I can help foster creativity and imagination in future generations. I do this as a volunteer with a wonderful organization, When We Play.