Cultivating Creative Kids
What is Creativity?
The lines between reality, possibility, and fantasy are far less distinct to a young mind - and this is one of the gifts of childhood, not something that needs to be wholly discouraged. Creativity must be exercised to improve its strength and capability. There are many kids for whom creativity is as natural as breathing, yet there are others that benefit from gentle assistance to ensure that the creative muscle is flexed at regular and beneficial intervals. Parents and kindergarten teachers know that creativity is a vital skill, necessary to ensure success and happiness in all aspects of adult life, and it is important that we provide our children with opportunities to foster creativity whenever possible.
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What is Needed to Foster Creativity?
The resources needed for creative expression are simple, and the most important factor is time. Imaginative play–child-directed, unstructured, and unencumbered by adult direction–is the best way to engage kids of any age in creative expression, and experts caution against an overload of commercially produced items, which can end up stifling the need for imagination. The time to just hang out and play is much easier to provide in the summertime, and the social and emotional benefits of unstructured play are well-documented.
Dedicated space for creative play is important, but since most of us don’t want to have a house full of creative messes, providing a specific place where kids are allowed–even encouraged - to make a mess is a great way to fuel the creative process.
Limiting screen time might seem like an obvious answer to many parents, but we are raising our children in an era where iPads are the solution to boredom. We need to reprogram our aversion to bored kids since it is bored children that are more likely to invent new activities for themselves. YouTube Kids has been an undeniable godsend in many ways, but setting a hard limit for screen time for elementary school students, especially in the summer, is an absolute necessity.
Summertime Tips to Encourage Creativity
Encouraging a love of reading will benefit your child in many ways. Books are often linked to the pursuit of other creative activities, such as acting out scenes from a favorite novel, learning the skills demonstrated by a favorite character, or setting the goal of reading every book written by a favorite author.
Give your kids the opportunity to express “divergent thought” by letting them work out alternate solutions to problems or more than one solution to a problem they have already solved. Allow them to disagree with you.
Do not reward children for exhibiting creativity. Incentives can actually interfere with the creative process by reducing the quality and flexibility of thoughts and responses. As parents, we need to stop clinging to our ideas about caring only what kids achieve and allow them to immerse themselves in the process of an activity instead of the product of an activity. Failing can be a creative victory, and this benefit can also help over-strivers or over-achieving kids get past a fear of failure by learning to recognize that true success is always in the journey.
Enroll in a supportive school community today to help your child explore creative pursuits.