What comes to mind when you think of the concept of creativity?
Someone who takes time to paint or compose music? Possibly a concept only to be enjoyed by someone with ample spare time? These are common misconceptions about creativity in modern society that are harmful to both adults and children.
Creativity is not a gene that only the artistic minded are born with.
Rather, it is a concept that can be cultivated and is proven to be a key indicator in a happier, healthier life. Promoting creativity in our children is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Cultivating creativity extends far beyond finger painting or music classes and has tremendous benefits in science, math, social and emotional intelligence. Read on to learn more about ways to promote creative thinking in children.
1) Seek Alternative Education
Modern education systems can have a narrow definition of what it means to be successful. High scores on standardized tests and strict curriculums often put a damper on creativity and innovation. If cultivating creativity and lateral thinking in your child is something you feel you are not receiving in the traditional education system, you may be interested in signing your child up for a gifted and talented program.
Adding this alternative way of teaching to the standardized education system is a great way to ensure your child has a creative outlet that meets his/her individual learning needs.
2) Recognize a Gifted Mind
For one reason or another, some children are truly born with a gifted mind that excels in ways most other children do not. A child with a gifted mind will engage better when a deeper understanding is explored and analyzed. When ideas are invented and reinvented. When concepts are challenged, and relationships with other like-minded children are developed.
The child that asks a hundred questions that seemingly lead to nowhere could be the child that is wired to invent the cure for cancer or the next rocket ship to Mars. Recognising these minds and tailoring education and interactions can have a huge impact on how they grow into innovative adults.
3) Redefine Creativity
If setting up a messy art project isn’t your cup of tea, fear not, there are numerous ways to engage in creative play with your child. Any activity that stretches thinking and promotes curiosity will promote creativity. Activities like taking apart an old telephone and exploring how the systems work or mixing common household materials to make bubbly science experiments are great ways to get your kids focus away from screens and into their own imaginations.
4) Encourage Curiosity
Sometimes, it feels like your child asks a million questions a day, I get it.
There are days when I am guilty of ignoring a majority of the questions in the hope they just stop. Then, there are days when I really tap into my child’s curiosity and promote the question asking and take the time to see where it can lead. These are the days when I know, as a parent, I am cultivating curiosity and creativity in my child and it feels really good.
5) Focus on fearlessness
One time, my husband, daughter and I were on a hike in the mountains of New Zealand. We came across a large rock that you could jump off of into a swimming hole. A young girl was standing a few feet from the edge, too scared to jump. Her grandfather said something I will never forget, “walk close enough to the edge to feel the fear, then decide if you want to jump”.
The encouragement to feel the fear is a concept I have never forgotten and despite my worried maternal nature, I try to allow my own daughter to push her own boundaries with fear and taking risks.
Children who are given the time and resources to cultivate creativity at a young age grow up to be more flexible adults that are able to be better problem solvers and more innovative in a work and professional setting. With toys, electronics and entertainment becoming increasingly fast paced and screen-based, the opportunity for imagination and creativity are becoming a rarity.
Setting aside time for your child to use their imagination and ask questions may seem like a waste of time at the moment, but may make all the difference in the development of a curious, innovative mind.