For most of us 2020 will undoubtedly be the most challenging year ever. When I reflect over my 45 years of life, I feel quite blessed despite all the challenges that came my way. In fact, those challenges are why I am where I am today. Despite being driven and hard on myself, I feel I have lived a privileged life. A comfortable existence, often the result of our welfare state, tends to distance us from the tribulations of life in a third world country, or even to how our parents or grandparents may have lived. It’s not just a question of going without books or an education, but losing your loved ones or everything you have worked for during times of war and conflict or other life changing experiences.
We are currently experiencing our generation’s version of war. This is WWIII. As Aussies, with resilience, compassion and patriotic fervour, we will make it through and one day look back and be grateful. But what about our children? How will they survive this experience? How will the covid-19 upheaval affect their future? How can we help them get through this time safely?
Helping our children through a crisis
First, we can acknowledge that there is no right or wrong way of parenting. I have met people who had the most amazing upbringing but turned down the wrong road. Then there are children who grow up under the most deprived conditions but lead inspiring lives as adults.
As parents we generally try and do our best to protect our children. We want to keep them in that imaginary ‘child’ time for as long as possible. We want to nurture their imagination and protect them from negative experiences – the news, frightening information or activities and adult conversations are just a few examples. We want our children to live in wonderland, have imaginary friends and be in ‘creation’ mode for as long as it is beneficial.
Aussie animals come to the rescue
It’s hard not to burst into a smile when viewing Anna Blatman’s animal art. Art teachers around the world follow Anna because children love her vibrant and colourful art. You will feel great knowing that part of the proceeds from each sale will go towards The Smith Family to help disadvantaged Australian children through education.
Kelly the Kookaburra
Anna Blatman bestowed a name on each of her animals, borrowed for the most part from her own children or people she knows. Kelly the Kookaburra was named after Anna’s daughter, apparently also a chatterbox. Kelly is one of our most loved Australian animals, children love her vibrant pink colours. Kookaburras are the largest of Australia´s kingfishers and are often called laughing kookaburras. It has a very distinctive cackle that serves to warn other birds to stay away from its territory.
Free Online Art Tutorials
We included Kelly in a few events and recently she was chosen to be the first prize for the “at home school run.” This event took place in July to help raise money for The Smith Family. We are currently using Kelly in a kids art painting competition. In this competition kids will have the opportunity to go in to win a number of prizes valued up to $800.
We have also created online tutorials with Anna Blatman for the kids to follow. These are a series of 5-8 min online videos where Anna walks the kids through painting Kelly the Kookaburra, and Kylie the Koala. As adults, we had an enormous amount of fun putting these together, so you can imagine just how much fun they would be for the kids! I allowed my daughter to watch the first one, but as soon as she watched it, she insisted on watching every single one and then decided she would paint Kelly the Kookaburra.
One day, a friend’s 3yr old son watched just one video. For the rest of the day all he could talk about was Kelly the Kookaburra. These are examples of how you can engage children’s imagination, you simply introduce them to their favourite animals. Try buying children a set of Kelly’s bamboo plates and you will discover that at breakfast time that they will engage in conversation with Kelly – this will be their imaginary world. You can even give them a plate to paint on!
Kylie the Koala
Pre-COVID times Kylie the Koala was our most loved animal! Koalas are cuddly, furry creatures that are native to eastern Australia. They live in eucalyptus trees feeding on the leaves and then sleeping in the crooks of branches for up to 18 hours a day.
Why not get your child to paint Kylie the Koala on a canvas or even cardboard. Allow your child to follow Anna Blatman’s free online tutorials and they will insist on watching them over and over until they become professional little artists. Just let their imaginations run wild and allow them to choose their own particular style or colour scheme. You can further encourage them by giving them a Kylie the Koala water bottle. They will not only look at it and drink from it while they are painting, but when school is over, they can take it and share Kylie with their friends.
Who won't love Wilma the Wombat?
Wilma the Wombat is so cuddly! The wombat is that lovable hero found in many Aussie children´s story books. Tales about this cuddly marsupial leave many families with nostalgic memories. If your children like to draw or write, give them one of our new journals – my daughter has had many of these journals and just loves them. Not only can you write in them, but throughout the journal we have printed an outline of each animal which can be coloured in. We have also included inspiring life quotes from the artist herself.
Kenny the Cockatoo
You cannot go wrong with Kenny the Cockatoo! This sulphur-crested cockatoo is Australia´s most common and largest parrot. It´s a mischievous but very intelligent bird that basks in company. The cockatoo can be taught to speak and makes a great companion, which is great because its sentimental, lovable nature requires emotional commitment.
Your kids will love our insulate lunch bags - perfect size for a lunch and bottle. Do not limit this to be for children only, I have to admit that I use one for my lunch too!
Kira the Kangaroo
Who will not love Kira the Kangaroo? Kangaroos have very strong family dynamics and demonstrate very caring and protective behaviour. A matriarchal society, the female adult or doe is quick to administer a sharp slap to out-of-line youngsters, or, by the same token, embrace a female family member with kisses and hugs.
Whether your child falls for Kelly, Kenny, Kylie, Kira or Wilma is up to them. But it is up to us as parents to nurture their imagination and to provide them with the environment they need to not only feel safe, but to create and grow.