20 years ago, I worked in a project called “Creative Thinking”, where I learned that creativity does not have to be an inherited quality. The project aimed to prove kids as young as 6 or 7 years old could learn the laws of physics. We found that could only be done when the kids learned to think “outside the box”. I worked in Creative Thinking for 4 years and left to develop the broader “Garden of Eden” program, because I thought young kids needed other things besides physics.
Last week, I wrote about character traits of creative kids. If you want your kids to be successful in their life, you can help your kids develop these character traits. All you needs is a bit of creativity…
5 ways to boost creativity
Be curious about everything. You never know when random, seemingly unrelated ideas will come together to form a new idea.
Encourage curiosity by answering questions
Teach your kids to be curious about everything. From an early stage of their life, try to answer all their questions. Even if they ask again and again, answer! If kids ask questions and get answers, they learn to trust their parents in different areas. Remember, every question is a good question and an opportunity for you to teach them something or give them your idea and interpretations of the situation.
Explore broken things
If you have something that is broken (tape, microphone, washing machine, skateboard…) and you want to throw it away, say instead, “I wonder how this thing is built from the inside”, then sit with your kids and open it. Remember, you are going to throw it away anyway, so why not take advantage of the opportunity to examine the way it is built. Kids as young as 4 years old can participate. You only need to make sure they do not put any small items in their mouth. Give them a screw driver and teach them to unscrew parts of the thing. Teach them about different kinds of screws and screw drivers.
The first stage of exploring is taking apart. Later on, you can teach your kids to reassemble too – teach them to keep the screws and parts in such a way they will remember how to put everything back together.
Your kids do not need to become mechanics, but exploring will expose them to many things they cannot see otherwise and teach them about how things work on the inside.
Initiate cool projects
Give your kids cool projects to do. Your projects do not have to be related to school studies. On the contrary, it is better if they are not. Projects can teach kids to tackle an assignment in any way they like and will require them to research a new topic. Even kids as young as 5 or 6 years old can do projects, like organizing an afternoon activity with friends, inviting friends for a sleepover, planning a weekend outing and setting the table by themselves… If they treat each one as a “project”, they will learn to take ownership and feel better about their achievements.
For older kids, you can give more independent projects, like planning a trip to another country, doing a family tree, doing a biography about a grandparent, designing and building a cubby house (please supervise the building) and redesigning back yard.
Bear in mind project skills develop over time, so at the beginning, your kids will come to you and ask for your help many times. Remember the first tip – answer their questions!
Let your kids be kids and play
Allow your kids to be kids and let them play as much as they want. Playing games is a wonderful way to learn, as long as the game is free and not restricted by Adultism (i.e. limited adult mindset – I just made this up). Teach your kids to color in and allow them to color outside the lines. Let them draw with chalk, play with putty/modeling clay/Plasticine/Playdough and build with Lego, even if they do not do everything right. In creativity, everything is right.
Take your kids to the playground and don’t panic they use the equipment in a different way (like sliding face down). Take care of their safety, but encourage them to experiment without taking too many risks.
Post creativity inspiration
Post creativity inspirational writing to instill in your kids that creativity is a treasure. In this post, you can find some of them. You can print and paste them in visible places to encourage your kids to adopt them.
Join me next week for another 5 ways to boost your kids’ creativity. Remember, to raise creative kids, you need to be a creative in your parenting style so all the tips and the ideas are relevant to your parenting style.