The kids in the Arts & Smarts program have been asking and answering that question often lately. A “spark” is something that you’re so excited about that you’re willing to work hard to get better at it. It’s your passion. It’s something you enjoy. It’s something that motivates you. It’s something that is meaningful for you and that can, in some small way, help make the world a better place.
Children who know their sparks and who have adults in their lives who know and support those sparks will thrive, according to research from the Search Institute.
The concept of sparks works well within Patchwork’s children’s program because we’re always trying new and different projects, we try to be responsive to the children’s individual interests, and we always include plenty of adults who can listen to and encourage the children. Kids at Patchwork can explore all kinds of sparks and find adult support for the things that they like to do best.
So far this semester the group has: painted paintings, created Valentines to sell, practiced building and operating robotics, begun to learn about stop motion animation, helped make snacks, created fun clay projects in the studio, read books with volunteers, played games, and gotten to meet new friends. In tutoring, kids have also had their tutors’ help and support in all of their classroom subjects.
Last semester, each child created a self portrait and attached their sparks to it. The results are wonderful. Above is a gallery of some of the portraits along with the children’s sparks (hover your cursor over each image and each child’s sparks will appear, or click on one image to see a bigger slide show).