The Creative Outlets

I’ve discussed here the type of school subjects that interest right-brained children most, and why. But I haven’t taken the time to discuss a category of subjects that are at the heart of a right-brained person: what I term the creative outlets. These are art/photography, theater/showmanship, cooking/gardening, math/numbers, music/dance, video games/computers, fashion/sewing, puzzles/mazes, or building/electronics.

In school, these are extra-curricular activities, or what they might classify as “specials” or “electives.” You may not even see many of these in school anymore. I know we used to have home economics where cooking and sewing were taught. There was shop class (building) that some of the (mainly) boys took. Often, there may still be art classes, theater classes, and music classes (both band and choral). Today, there are computer labs. It would be rare to find photography or dance, except at a specific magnet art school. If a school brings in a garden, it’s considered innovative. And though we consider math to be a staple in mass institutions of learning, it mostly falls under arithmetic, a very different animal.

Even if we’re lucky enough to see evidences of these “subjects” offered in school, they are separated opportunities to dabble momentarily. For right-brained people, they are drawn to these activities because they need a creative outletinterspersed in all they do and experience. If right-brained people don’t get to express themselves creatively a good part of their day, they only half live.

Click on the photo to check out my photographer’s blog and photos…amazing!

From my book, The Right Side of Normal, I write:

For the right-brained learner, deep engagement in one or more of these areas of creative outlet is at the core of development. If these people aren’t creatively engaged, they only half live. And yet, our society currently views these pursuits as extracurricular at best, a waste of time at worst. School budget cuts begin with creative outlets even though they should be the center of early years’ study for these learners.

My most popular post is where I show the natural learning path for right-brained and left-brained children, starting in the 5 to 7 year age range and culminating at high school with full integration for most learners for most subjects. Here’s a recent comment from a reader sharing her ah-ha moment after reading that post:

I’ve always wondered about my remarkable turn-around in school.  I was a “terrible” student until midway through the 5th grade, at which point I got my first straight A report card.  I thought it was a fluke – I had been so used to the idea of being bad at school that it didn’t seem possible – but I continued to get them through my high school graduation.  It was so odd because I never changed the way I approached school, yet these amazing report cards started following me home.

She had reached the Integration Stage of 11 to 13 years old and her ability to “perform” left-brained tasks so prevalent in school kicked in. But, my information is much more than explaining why right-brained children don’t perform well initially in our left-brained schools. I’m here to shout from the rooftops the natural learning path for right-brained children that will have them flourishing right from the start, not having to experience the idea that they had been “terrible” students until integration of brain processes occur.

Click on the picture for more examples of how creative outlets promote learning.

Understanding and promoting the creative outlets in the earliest learning time frames of 5 to 7 years old is one of the key needs for right-brained children. In my book, I list five inherent benefits the creative outlets naturally cultivate in right-brained children during their important foundational learning stage.

  • Creative outlets are naturally formulated to strengthen the universal gifts of the right-brained learner.
  • Creative outlets prepare right-brained learners for later left-brained academic tasks.
  • Right-brained learners use their creative outlet to make sense of the world around them.
  • Right-brained learners process new information by first playing with the ideas through creative outlets.
  • Creative outlets often lead to a future career path for right-brained learners.

In my book, I provide examples for each of these benefits. You can certainly see these benefits scattered throughout my post about a right-brained learner’s gift of picture-based thinking. Or in my post about how my children learned differently in the early years rather than how it’s set up in schools. I see theater, drawing, photography, computers, and building. These are a small sampling of how the creative outlets were found as a core everywhere I look throughout my creative children’s learning lives. That’s why it’s crucial that creative outlets are recognized, encouraged, and developed throughout a right-brained learner’s life, including and especially the early years.

Click on the picture for more examples of how creative outlets promote learning.

Question: What are some examples of the way your children have used their preferred creative outlets to express themselves or to explore another subject?

6 responses to “The Creative Outlets

  1. Oh, I have been absolutely amazed at what my 8-year-old child has learned through television. I am continuously awed at the breadth and the depth of his knowledge about everything possible from television. He, of course, learns from many avenues; from he and I looking things up on the computer, from me reading to him, from conversations, and from all of his experiences in his world. But his biggest inspiration for learning is television. His interests usually start there, and then he wants to read about them, or draw them. But mostly he watches TV or plays his video games, gets inspired for a fantasy game, and runs around acting out his fantasy. He spends huge amounts of time in this fantasy play every day. It’s this acting out of the fantasy by which he processes the new information. He lives it, acts it out, visualizes it, synthesizes it with other ideas in his fantasy, and then he owns it.

    It’s such a blessing to unschool him. He’s so amazing, and I just don’t see how his spirit could survive school at all. None of who he is jibes with how school does things. For one thing, there’s very little in the way of product from his learning. It’s watching, thinking, and acting out. It all takes place in his mind. He goes in spurts with lots of art work, but that’s not highly valued in school, as far as product.

    • Thanks for sharing, Sara, about how your son learns. I’m so with you and have experienced seeing this very same thing in several of my children in this way. Even though there are no “products,” we can literally see the brain processing all this information constantly through their creative outlets. As you’re saying here, it’s SO rich in learning and a typical school environment can’t even come close to tapping into all that creative learning.

  2. My almost 7 year old son with sometimes say at the end of the night that he’s upset that I didn’t play with him that day. At first I was shocked. We had played bored games as a family, watched shows together, rode bikes and read together. I felt like a horrible mother! But I came to understand that “playing” meant some form of made-up, fantasy play. If he doesn’t get a chance to do that with someone during the day, it’s like they didn’t do the most important thing with him. I really like how you put it about living only half a life. That’s how he feels at the end of the day if he didn’t have a chance to make up lots of stories.

    • Very poignant, Christina! What a great example from your son about how he was able to share with you that his day wasn’t complete without a creative, imaginative interaction. The stage he’s in almost requires it of him in order to fulfill the measure of his creation. How shallow and empty must our right-brained children feel in a learning environment devoid of these needed creative and imaginative outlets as is found in our schools today.

  3. My son is finding ways to use his video games to do lots of things. He uses his Minecraft blocks like manipulatives to do multiplication or show me fractions. He also writes mini adventure stories using the books in the game. This week he used LittleBigPlanet to create a re-telling of our recent vacation to Florida. He also uses music from video games to help himself read. He says books are more interesting with a soundtrack so he adds his own. I think that is so cool.

    • Fascinating, Michelle, to hear all the different ways your son uses the creative outlets to explore, understand, and enhance his learning. Love it! This is what I’m talking about…it all integrates naturally, and we miss a huge learning component for our right-brained children if we undervalue the creative outlets in their lives.

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