My wife and I can’t really draw. Our talents are elsewhere – mine with written words, hers with music. We enjoyed drawing at a young age, but our abilities didn’t keep up with our age.
So when our kids learned to draw, we sought help, buying these great books on how to draw. We practiced as a family for hours, hoping to give our kids a life-long skill they would appreciate more than we had. So far, it’s working. They both enjoy drawing and often use their free time honing their craft.
Drawing helps kids visualize more complex ideas. It’s why today’s school work often includes an artistic aspect.
My sixth-grade son recently drew pictures to represent several abstract terms, like technology and science. It was a way for him to better understand – visually and artistically – ideas that don’t often have an obvious image associated with them.
It got me thinking about how as adults, we don’t do enough drawing and visualization in our day-to-day lives. I think if we did, it would make a positive difference in solving complex problems.
Take dreams, for example. For many, it’s something hard to grasp visually. It’s also very personal, so talking about dreams makes some of uncomfortable.
Would drawing pictures help? I think so.
Give it a try sometime. Get your family or close friends involved. You’d be surprised at how – even if (like me) you’re not a talented artist – you’ll learn more about your hopes and dreams by drawing them.
If you need some inspiration, check out the American Family Insurance Draw Your Dreams contest. We’ve invited kids (13 and under) to share their dreams with us – in a visual way. Like Rachel’s dream of being a teacher and helping kids learn, which I’ve included with my blog post. These pictures will take you back to those grade school days when drawing played such an important part of learning.
Maybe it’s time my wife and I did our homework – and got out those how-to-draw books.
Editor's note: The American Family Insurance Draw Your Dreams contest runs through Oct. 28, 2012. Help your kids enter by visiting www.amfam.com/draw_your_dream. Entries must be postmarked by Oct. 28.
Three years ago, I was approaching my 16th birthday. I was looking forward to the freedom I was about to experience. I was finally going to be able to drive myself wherever I pleased, and I was going to do it unsupervised. Kind of.
When my birthday rolled around, I had my keys in hand and the open road in my sight. I was ready to go. But with my new car came some interesting news. Mom and Dad were ready to go, too, but with a set of rules and a contract to sign detailing the specifics of when I was allowed to have the car, how many people I could have with me, and just how grounded I would be if I broke any of their many rules.
Apparently, that wasn’t enough. They brought backup in the form of the American Family Insurance Teen Safe Driver Program.
I thought I was a relatively good driver. By that, I mean I didn’t expect to see a motion-sensor camera in my car any time soon. And that’s what most teenagers think. Research shows we are all susceptible to being more confident than we are skilled, and Teen Safe Driver was a way to fix that.
I was less thrilled than Mom and Dad seemed to be. Who wouldn’t be frustrated at the thought of having their driving monitored? The driving that I imagined being so free began to feel constrained.
I was lucky to have a car of my own in the first place, so no amount of complaining was going to prevent the installation of the device. What came as a surprise, though, was that after a few days on the road with Teen Safe Driver, the uneasy feeling slipped away. With the help of my parents, I began to see – if not a little reluctantly – that there was good in it for me; it wasn’t just for their peace of mind. It very well might have saved me money in tickets or repairs.
Along the same lines, I watched videos from other drivers who have gone through the program and I realize now it might have saved my life. Of course, my parents said that from the beginning.
What I gained from Teen Safe Driver was the valuable experience of watching my own driving with coaching from an adviser who had plenty of experience helping other teens drive better.
We often excuse our own actions, but when you’re staring at yourself making mistakes on the road, there is no denying it. Although my driving isn’t perfect, I make better decisions while driving, like not texting or running through stop signs: Things we all see other drivers do.
Teen Safe Driver is a powerful program, and as a graduate I think it’s great that American Family makes it easy for customers to be a part of it. Even signing the Safe Driver Pledge makes people think about their driving and provides inspiration to make changes.
With my sister just reaching driving age, I am excited to see her go through the program and see how much it helps her driving habits. If you have a teen driver at home, go check out the program!
Speaking from experience, it’s worth it.
Editor's note: During Teen Driver Safety Week, talk with your family about distracted driving and what it takes to be a better driver. If you need some motivation, get everyone to take the American Family Insurance Safe Driver Pledge. And just for taking the pledge, we’ll enter you in a drawing for one of 10 $250 gift cards.