Monday, October 25, 2010

My Kids: Four Freelance Lessons From My Four Year-Old

This will be the first in a new series here at Prolific Studios, aptly titled the "My Kids" series. This will consist of lessons learned along the way, taught by the very kiddos my wife and I strive to teach every day.

Let me give you a little background on one of my little ones (there are 3 total...for now). Bella, who is the oldest at 4, is a fiery red-head with a personality to match. If a child has ever been confident in who she is, Bella IS that child. She has never met a stranger and will perform a song, dance, trick, acrobatic move (you probably get the point) at the drop of a hat. Hopefully this gives you an idea of just how much I can "learn" in a day.

My hope for this series is to offer you relevant tips, tricks and ideas that will help you along your journey, while still bringing across the fun and excitement our little ones bring to each and every day.

Without further ado, I bring you Four Freelance Lessons From My Four Year-Old:

1. Share

In the on-going effort to teach my kiddos to share, it never quite hit me until the other day when Bella asked me what I was doing on the computer. I told her I was reading a blog and after the 30 questions about what a blog is and what it does, she asked if I was going to share.


Every day we go through the process of impressing upon our children how to share, why to share and even what to share (because some things are just better kept to yourself). If we are going through this much trouble to make sure they know how to bless others, then it only makes sense that we should be following our own instruction.


At that moment it dawned on me that we SHOULD share. Share our ideas, blogs, readers, customers, tips, tricks, and anything else we can think of.

I am a big fan of open source programs, materials and ideas. I believe without an open forum, we become subject to what other people think is the best for us. When we open up our minds and resources, we get to work together as a group to come up with the absolute best for everyone involved.


2. Practice Reading and Writing

Bella is in school and learning her letters and learning how to read. The funny thing is, when she starts sounding them out, she also likes to write them out. I guess this happens because she can see and "feel" the letters as she learns them?

Basically, if you want to get better at one, practice the other as well. For those of us who write, one of the ways to improve our skills is to read great writing. No, this does not mean go back through your own archives. Take a look at other great writers and even type out their exact words to get the "feeling" of how good writing flows. Here is a small sampling of great writers to check out if you can't think of any:

Writer Dad
Words on the Page
The Simple Dollar

While all of these writers may not spark your interest with their topics, their writing is undeniably superb.

3. Don't Talk During Seat Work

In K-4, students are learning how to sit quietly and get their work done - a big task to ask of such a little kid. The teachers understand how much this discipline will help out as the children get older, which is why they stress this rule so much. Anytime a student is caught talking during seat time, they are corrected. Distractions not only hurt other students who are trying to work, but also take away from the child's best effort.

As adults, it is important to minimize distractions when you are supposed to be working. Even though Brian, owner of bkmacdaddy designs, welcomes some types of distractions (and I believe he knocked it out of the park with his Manifesto,) limiting other distractions such as Twitter, TV and even the Dog can help you work more efficiently and at a higher quality.

Of course, efficient work means more gets done in a shorter time, which means your time becomes more valuable therefore profits go up - which is a great reason to stay quiet during seat work.

4. It's Ok To Color Outside The Lines

While many of the lesson Bella is learning, I personally agree with, there is a simple one which sorta gets under my skin. Bella was coloring the other day and told me that she was "NOT scribble-scrabbling all over her paper."

Well, why not?

While I enjoy good art, just like another person, I truly believe that many schools try to force us into uniformity. While this is great for some people, because we do need people to work (that is a topic for another day), I feel that it is important for my children to understand the value of thinking outside of the box. While it is important to respect authority, it is also important to ask questions and think independently.

Coloring outside the lines is how we ended up with airplanes, penicillin and post-it-notes. So, sweetheart, go ahead and color outside the lines till your heart is content. Write that witty sales copy, go crazy with that logo design and code until YOU are happy with the results.

Wipe Your Hands

So, now that you have permission to steal a cookie before dinner, get back to work, but remember to share all things, practice what you like best AND least, minimize your distractions to improve the quality of your time, and for Pete's sake - BE UNIQUE.

I would love to hear about what you think of the "My Kids" series, so please drop a comment in the box below (yep, that one, down there).

What is the strangest thing you have learned from one of your kids? Or if you don't have any yet, what have you learned from other people's kids? Let's chat about it.

Prolific Studios
Creativity. Defined.

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