When children are very young, they are naturally curious, inventing games, songs and stories, seeking answers to endless questions, and much more. Yet as children become older, some lose some of their creativity. Instead, they look to teachers and parents for direction and approval, concerning themselves with "right" answers instead of appreciating the process by which they come to conclusions.
However, creative thinking is incredibly valuable and teaches children to enjoy learning for learning's sake, which will generally result in a more successful student. How can you encourage your child to think creatively? Here are 5 ways you can draw out your child's creativity:
- Creative Teaching: Expose your child to a variety of creative people. Take your child to open mic night at the coffee shop or to a local art gallery to watch an artist sculpt or paint. If you're a woodworker, gardener or knitter, show your child what you do and invite him or her to participate. Showing your child the many different types of things he or she can do—from art to music, from science to writing—and introducing him or her to people who enjoy and excel at those things will encourage him or her to attempt new undertakings.
- Let your child experiment. Whatever the activity, let your child be his or her own guide in their creative process. Let your budding cook make up recipes in the kitchen. Offer tools and supplies, and let your child create whatever he or she can imagine. The more you encourage your child to choose activities and support him or her in developing new interests and skills, the better.
- Offer quiet time. From a young age, set aside free time each day for your child to play independently—doing whatever he or she chooses. Better yet, designate quiet time as a family activity. While your child gets out his or her Lego's, why not work on your scrapbook? Giving your child opportunities to explore will also fuel his or her inquisitiveness and help him or her become self-reliant.
- Try games or creative thinking activities that teach problem-solving. Games like chess, Battleship and Risk teach creativity and strategy, showing children how to consider multiple scenarios, weigh pros and cons, and debate different ideas. Games like Scrabble can help a child develop their word creativity. Try open-ended games that offer children opportunities to think creatively and use their imaginations. For further reading, here's some advice on how parents can support their 21st century learners.
- Ask why. When your child asks you to double-check his or her work, have him or her explain how he or she arrived at the answer, step by step. When your child shares an idea or opinion, ask why. How did he or she develop that opinion? Why does he or she feel differently than you or a friend? Why is this important to him or her?
Fostering creativity in your child leads to many important benefits. Your curious learner is more likely to challenge him or herself, learn from his or her mistakes, question assumptions and think critically. Such skills will help your child grow into an independent student and a lifelong learner.