I read somewhere once, I think it was in a magazine, about how studies have demonstrated that showing a child pictures of himself raises his self-esteem. If that is true, my kids must have wonderful self-esteem. As a member of the momarazzi, I always have a camera in hand or close by, tucked in my purse. Taking pictures of my kids on a daily basis is just something I do–I was a photography major after all–and displaying those photos is how we make our house feel like home. Besides, I love walking through the halls, sitting on my couch, and enjoying my morning coffee surrounded by our favorite moments. It gives me my own sense of pride and helps remind me of all the great things I have in my life.
This got me thinking, if showing kids pictures of themselves raises self-esteem, wouldn’t displaying artwork and other things they created do the same?
I put this theory to the test when my son began attending preschool and started bringing home artwork from class. My only problem, I didn’t have a place to display them. See, when we bought our stainless steel refrigerator it didn’t occur to us it wouldn’t be magnetic. I could have just taped the stuff to the wall, but I wanted something a little more special than that. These were my chid’s first masterpieces after all. So that’s when I began searching for alternative ways of displaying children’s artwork. It’s a shame I was not aware of Pinterest back then, as you can find many different ways for displaying your child’s art. In fact I have my own board dedicated for just this purpose. Here are a few of the ideas out there : you can frame your child’s art and display them in a unified grid, you can hang clipboards on the wall and rotate the art periodically, or you can use a (and even make your own) french memo board. After weighing my many options, I chose a simple design for displaying my son’s, and now my daughter’s, artwork.
Known as the cable system, it is quite popular and has many variations. You can find these systems in just about any store. They run from very elaborate and stylish, to modernly simple. However, they can also be pricy and most come with those toothy clips, which tend to leave indented marks on the paper and scratch up photos. For me, it’s not worth it if it damages what I am trying to display. So, as with many things, I thought I might be able to make one myself, and if I can use supplies I already own–even better. When it comes to DIY projects, this is super easy and equally cheap, anyone can do this. All you need are some simple supplies, and instructions on how to use them. Before you know it, you’ll be displaying your child’s artwork, or family photos, in no time. Here’s what you need:
1. String, picture hanger wire, or butcher’s twine. I’m sure if you cook pot roast you have some twine laying around. If not, you can find it anywhere from the grocery store to the dollar store.
2. Eyelet screws. These can be found at any home improvement store, craft store, or your local Target.
3. Clothespins. These are cheap and come in many different sizes, from mini to jumbo. However, I would recommend either using the small or normal size for this project. The mini clothespins don’t hold the paper that well. However, they work great for 4×6 photos. I found my small clothespins at my local craft store.
Choose a spot in your home that gets lots of traffic, or where you spend most of your time. Measure, and then mark the length for your string/wire. Screw the eyelet screws in each of the marks and tie the string to the eyelets. If you are doing more than one row, like we did, you need to take into account vertical orientation of pictures as well and leave enough space between the rows. Now your artwork is ready to be added. Hang your pictures, paintings, handwriting samples, and other works of art with the clothespins. I use two pins per picture. You can dress up the clothespins a bit by spray painting them an elegant white, or some other color that perhaps matches your decor. Another option is to add some scrapbook paper to the clothespins, or you could leave them plain, it looks just as nice.
If your school is like ours, then you are getting tons of stuff sent home throughout the year. My son brings home something in his backpack every Friday, so our wall gets filled pretty fast as I add the newest creations on top of the old, each week. In order to avoid clutter, I take everything down after winter break and store it in a folder. Then our wall is ready to be filled again once the second half of the school year begins. Once school has ended, I leave the artwork up for a week or two, and replace it with things we create together over the summer. This keeps things fresh and up to date.
I seriously enjoy having this area in my home. Not only do I get to sit on my couch, or at my kitchen table, look up and see all the memories we have created over the years, I also get to enjoy the creativity and talent of my children staring back at me. Not to mention watching the progression of their skills develop over the months with each new art piece. Mostly though, it’s about what this has created for my son. Pride. It’s been such a highlight in the grand scheme of motherhood, seeing how proud he is to have his work displayed, and how excited he gets each Friday to show me what he brought home in his folder, this week, to hang on the wall.
Just as showing pictures of himself elicits pride and excitement, so does seeing his creations, displayed for all to see. I hear conversations with Grandma about his class rumpus while pointing to the mask he made, and listen as he explains, in detail, about nocturnal animals while hanging up his picture of bats, and did I know the colors red and blue make purple, just like he created on that finger painting? I see his self-esteem and confidence grow, each and every day. I see the pride he feels when sitting down to draw pictures of Bumblebee and Optimus Prime, and asks me to add them to the wall–or better yet, him creating his own wall of displayed artwork right next to his bed.
Each day I look at our wall and see the proof that every child is an artist (thank you Picasso), deserving of a gallery all their own.
A child’s development always starts at home. As you can see, as our kids learn to understand things slowly they also develop their self-esteem through doing things on their own. But it doesn’t mean that they don’t need guidance, indeed they need it more.