Albert Einstein said that, "The greatest scientists are artists as well." Creativity is just as important in the lab as it is in the art studio. Unfortunately, our education system has cut back on its art programs to focus solely on the maths and sciences. A 2010 study showed that American children are less creative now than they were 20 years ago.
So how do we raise creative kids into creative adults?
We are all made in the image of the Master Creator. Because He creates, we create. I want to foster that as much as I can. I've come up with a list of 8 things that we do in our family to help our boys become as creative as they can be.
1. Read good stories(especially the fantastical ones). It is through reading that we can go anywhere and be anything. It is through reading another's story that we are able to safely think through the problems presented and explore the many different ways they could be solved while bringing the story to a satisfactory end. Read about a little girl's life with her family in the big woods and pirates with peg legs. Read the stories about magic wardrobes, mice on motorcycles, and Sneetches in breeches.
2. Let them explore on their own. We ended up not using the playpen or baby swing a whole lot with the boys. As long as I can keep an eye on them, they get to wander the house most of the time. We let them explore the yard and the playground without being right by their side. And let me tell you, our boys are two of the most independent little explorers that I've ever seen.
3. Let them take risks(within reason). Little Man is a little climber and the Munchkin is taking after him. We may have used baby gates, but we gave them plenty of time to climb the stairs with us following after a few steps behind. Little Man loves to climb trees. Yes, they could fall and skin a knee but being willing to take risks is part of being creative. After all, "nothing ventured, nothing gained."
4. Teach them it's ok to make mistakes. Creative people are willing to, in the words of Ms. Frizzle, "Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!" Creative people aren't afraid to get up, dust themselves off, and try again. When they fail, encourage them to try again. Make sure that they know you've been there and understand. Share a few good examples of famous people that tried and failed many times before they succeeded.
5. Pretend with them. Play along with their pretend play. Little Man used to say that he was going to go into the little triangle symbol on the hazard light button in our car. We played along, asking if we could all come along too and wondering what we would find in it. He loved it! If we are always shutting down a child's pretending with misplaced explanations of reality, they'll stop asking that important question, "what if?"
6. Ask why and what if questions. Challenge them to come up with new ideas and explanations. What if the sky was green? Why are you coloring the dirt purple? Why did Harry Potter do that? If you had to spend the rest of your life only watching Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, which would you pick?
7. Music. We listen to a lot of music and, with a mom that plays the piano, you can bet our kids are going to study music as well. Little Man loves to listen to music, play his drums, the piano, and strum the guitar. He even watches instructional drum videos on YouTube. New studies are showing that kids that study a musical instrument have better executive functioning abilities and spatial temporal reasoning.
8. Don't compare their creative abilities with someone else's. If there's a faster way to convince a kid that they aren't creative and make them give it up forever, I don't know it. Comparing ourselves can be crippling enough to our own creativity without an influential grownup telling us that we'll never be as good as someone else. I've talked to people this happened to as children and I've seen the effect it had on them. Besides, there are many successful people that were told they wouldn't succeed and many weren't recognized for their genius until after their death.
I really believe these 8 things have made a difference in our kids. Do have any points you'd like to add? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
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You can read the rest of the posts in the Inspiring Creativity series by following the link or clicking the picture below!