"Everyone get OUT of the pool! A monster is coming out of the drain!"
No this isn't from some bad sci-fi movie. This is a little boy's very active and healthy imagination. This little ingenious seven-year-old boy is the middle child of two very gifted sisters. In fact, the whole family is very talented. Their father is Jeremy Robinson, a successful novelist that has published forty books, translated into at least ten different languages. Their mother Hilaree Robinson, is a skilled artist, editor, poet, and writer. She is writing her first novel alongside her husband in 2014.
Everyone that meets the Robinsons, can't resist their charm and wittiness. They are humble, friendly, and intelligent. However, the most alluring thing about them, is their playful side. They are also not afraid to be different, making them even more interesting. I was privileged enough to interview both Jeremy and Hilaree, about what keeps the creative "juices" going in their family - especially concerning their three young children.
Where does all this creativity come from?
The creativity started at a young age for both Jeremy and Hilaree. Hilaree spent hours on end outdoors with the neighborhood kids, playing anything and everything. When she wasn't playing, she was curled up with a book somewhere. Jeremy recalls playing outside on large boulders, crushing an imaginary city of buildings and cars around him, as he played Godzilla with his neighborhood friends. He was often caught up in endless hours of fantasy play or sketching on his drawing pad in his bedroom.
"I was always acting out a story through play." Jeremy says. "To this day, I tend to be a storyteller first, a writer second. In fact, it doesn't matter the medium I'm using, whether that is through art, film, or writing. What matters most to me is the story at heart." Jeremy goes on to say, "I see it in my own children now. Their play always revolves around a storyline somehow." One minute the children are playing they are on an abandoned ship in the middle of the ocean and the next, they are rehearsing lines to put on a Christmas pageant for their parents.
Hilaree and Jeremy have chosen to homeschool their children for many reasons. One of the major reasons is to support and nurture creativity in their children. They believe it is important to allow ample time for play - both for themselves as well as for their children. Hilaree feels that children learn mostly through play. They learn to create, imagine, negotiate, self-regulate, and experiment. Play is truly invaluable and takes up a big portion of their day.
The Robinsons also model creativity by taking time to draw and paint with their children on the weekends. They demonstrate the importance of taking time to make beautiful art, and expressing themselves through various mediums. Jeremy also supported his 9-year-old daughter when she asked to write and publish a book of her own. He walked her through the whole process and saw it as an invaluable learning experience. She now has her own book published and for sale on Amazon. She likes to report back how many copies she has sold already.
Hilaree has created an art studio in the house for the children to use whenever they feel the urge to create. She keeps fresh supplies for them and encourages them to use adult tools when building and designing, such as hand tools for carving wood, and fancy pastels when dabbling in art. She believes if children are shown how to use tools properly - they will feel competent and become capable.
Observing for meaningful opportunities
While I was interviewing Jeremy and Hilaree, their eldest daughter came down to join us. Curious, she asked what we were talking about. After she realized we were talking about creativity and play, she ran back upstairs to grab something. Seconds later, she was back again with a mannequin's torso in her hands. "This is my mannequin," she says. "I'm making a costume for a play I'm directing. He'll be one years old soon, since I got him last year for Christmas." I wasn't sure who's birthday she was referring to at first, until I realized that she was talking about her mannequin.
Hilaree says, "She enjoys sewing and theater. Two things I could care less for. But since they are important to her, I make sure to provide her with the right opportunities." Their daughter is currently interested in directing plays. She is getting ready to do the play, Beauty and the Beast with her friends; therefore, she is designing and hand-sewing the prince's costume in preparation. This combines her love for theater and sewing.
Their son is really into stories and wants to write a book alongside his father someday soon. His play often revolves around action and adventure and even monster play. They don't allow him to watch or read scary stories, this is solely from the little boy's imagination. Jeremy who writes these types of books, kind of hid this type of play from his parents when he was young. "They would have frown upon it," says the successful author. "We not only allow him to 'monster play,' but also encourage him to express his stories through various mediums like film, storytelling, and art."
The Robinsons have film equipment in their house, and often let their children create short films. For instance, they filmed a short action scene their son had created. This featured their son running outside, around the house, battling off his siblings, rolling on the ground to escape enemies, and ended with him on a chair eating his favorite potato chips - a sweet victory.
As for their youngest, she is only five years old. "She is still young and plays a lot," says Hilaree. They plan to continue to foster her imagination and observe her interests as they present themselves.
"A lot of people try to put their children in a LOT of different activities to see what they enjoy. This can be overwhelming and stressful to a child," states Hilaree. Jeremy agrees, "If they are exposed to too much too early, they may end up hating the activities the parents have chosen for them." "Yes," says Hilaree. "We try to find what is meaningful to our children, and give them abundant opportunities to be able to express themselves. We don't simply provide activities that we might find meaningful."
Jeremy's work is not for the faint-hearted. He has a large following in the genres of action, adventure, and horror. What interests me the most about this family, is that Jeremy and Hilaree inspire their children to come up with their own unique stories, interweaving their play and creative outlets around this.
A local librarian, very close to the Robinson family tells me, "I can't wait to see what these children end up doing with their lives when they get older. I have never met more creative children. Whatever, they decide to do - it will be incredible!"
So whether their 9 year old becomes a famous film director, or their middle child ends up writing monster novels like his father, we don't know. What we do know, is that they will have the support of their parents along the way....making it that much easier for them to attain their goals.
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