What does it mean to be creative? Is it about being an artist? Sometimes — but it’s also much more than that. Creativity is about problem-solving, flexibility, exploring and being open to new ideas.
Creative thinking is a big concept, and it’s something you can boost in your child’s life with a few simple actions at home.
While you can’t force your children to be creative or engage in the arts, you can give your children physical, emotional and intellectual space — and the creative tools — to boost their own unique creative spirits. Whether your child ends up an artist or a physicist or a lawyer, creative thinking will benefit him or her for a lifetime.
Turn off the television
Yes, the TV is handy for a few minutes when you need to keep Junior occupied, and there are some great educational shows out there. But there’s a reason it’s called the “idiot box.” It should be off more often than it’s on! Turn it off. Yes, now.
Keep the arts and crafts cabinet stocked
You do have an arts and crafts stash with age appropriate materials, right? And your child has time to use them to create and explore, right?
Whether or not your child is “artistic,” arts and crafts isn’t always about a specific result — it’s about experimentation. Sometimes exploring a material is just about seeing how it works, and what happens when you hold five crayons all together. Let the magic happen.
Let there be (some) clutter and mess
We all like a clean house, but low-level clutter can trigger creativity. In the less-than-perfectly-put-together house, there are patterns to be seen and connections to be made. Random things near each other may lead to a new idea for your child’s play or to some idea for, well, anything. The LEGOS do not need to be perfectly sorted and out-of-sight; your child (and you) need to see what’s there to make the connections.
Creativity doesn’t stop when the crayons or toys are put away. At the dinner table, in the car, anywhere, brainstorm with your child.
Start a conversation with, “What if?” What if… you took a different road home? What if… the sky were green? What if… asparagus was candy? What if… we could go to the moon for vacation? There’s no right or wrong — there’s just possibility.
Allow for failure
Yes, failure. Not every effort is going to be successful and your child’s life will not be perfect. There’s often more than one way to get from point A to point B! As much as you want to protect your child from hurt, it’s not reality. Learning to cope with failure or disappointment can encourage your child to creatively problem solve for a different solution. And it might be even better than the original desired outcome!
Creativity is not just about the arts, it’s a set of tools for a lifetime. Setting the home stage to allow for creativity and creative thinking is not just a good idea, it’s a lot of fun.