creativity (Photo credit: smrisk)
What I love about working with kids everyday is that they are so wonderfully creative and spontaneous! You never know what will come out of their mouths or be recorded in their writing. This year another teacher and I sponsored an after school writing club for fourth graders. We had over twenty participants and were astonished by their intriguing story lines for their work. We had everything from crime fighting manatees to stories about friends who were dyslexic to talking turkeys who got lost in New York City. We even had one student who wrote her story about herself because she plans to be a famous author someday and when she does, people will want to read about her life. Talk about planning ahead...
Success, a favorite magazine of mine ran an article this month called Get Unstuck: Seventeen Ways To Bring More Creativity into Your Daily Life and Work. One of the sources for the story, author, Keri Smith is asked if she has any good synonyms for the word 'creative' to which she replies, "Life, I try not to separate the two." Good advice for all of us, no matter what you feel your life calling is and whether or not you feel it demands much in the way of creativity.
Many of the suggestions in the article are things that kids are natural at anyway and I thought I would highlight them in this post in hopes that we would not only continue to encourage creativity in our kids, but that we would also recognize the need to encourage and empower the inner kid in us all.
- Play--Every kid (and adult) needs playtime. Much of our modern day life tends to minimize this with structured sports and classes and mindless television/videos. Free play is probably the number one way to nurture creativity.
- Thought Experiments--Ask your child "What if questions... What if the sun were a ball of cheese? What if the rain were chocolate syrup?..." Encourage your child to ask themselves similar questions to develop imagination and the habit of invention.
- Try new things with your child--read books on dramatically different topics, watch movies that are different from the norm, attend unique performances, try international food, travel somewhere new. Teach children to expand their world and be inspired by the creativity of others.
- Do the opposite--change something about your child's routine, have them write/draw with their left hand, eat dinner for breakfast, consider a problem to be solved---what would be the opposite of success? what creates failure?
- Remember dreams--some of history's greatest innovations were products of dreams. The search engine Google, came from a dream that Larry Page, co-founder had. The book Frankenstein came originally from a dream of Mary Shelly. Engage your child in conversation about their dreams. Challenge them to keep a dream journal and write or draw out their dreams.
Some books to encourage and spark creativity:
There are many more ways to challenge children to nurture their creative side. What do you do to encourage creativity in children or yourself?