Kids’ Creativity: Two Important Questions for Parents to ConsiderShare
Parents typically want to encourage their children’s creative expression. However, uncertainties and misconceptions about creativity abound. Here are two questions that merit thought and discussion—along with ideas so parents can foster kids’ creativity to the fullest.
Parents may know what fuels their children’s creativity, and regularly chat with them about how to fortify the imagination—including where to look for inspiration, who to ask for ideas, and how to use ideas productively. In fact, many parents do a really great job of this! Nevertheless, unanswered questions and misconceptions about creativity sometimes get in the way of parental understandings, support, and encouragement. Have a look at the two questions about creativity that follow here, and the discussion points and suggestions for parents that accompany each one.
Question #1. Does creativity derive from impulsiveness?
Answer: Sometimes creativity does occur spontaneously like a sudden spark or an unanticipated flash of light. And when that happens, it’s wonderful and invigorating, and can lead to exciting discoveries. However, creativity also evolves over time, and it’s predicated on effort and prior knowledge. A child’s knowledge base provides the foundational building blocks for developing ideas, plans, and new ways of thinking. (For more on this click here.)
Expressing creativity often takes the form of playfulness. Indeed, when creativity starts flowing it can certainly be enjoyable, gratifying, and entertaining. However, creative output is not necessarily about engaging in frivolity. It’s frequently time-consuming, even painstaking work, involving overcoming challenges, taking risks, finding resources, and being persistent. New horizons can even be scary, especially for kids. Creativity is something people decide to nurture—it’s a decision—and this sometimes requires courage, determination, and conviction. Creativity derives from what is original, meaningful, and effortful.
What can parents do? Talk with children about how it’s good to be imaginative, reiterating that creative activities can be lots of fun, and that it’s great to be spontaneous, and to play with ideas! However, indicate, too, that creativity is multifaceted, and that there are practical and even serious sides to it. Help kids understand that creative effort requires time and commitment, but it’s worth it. Parents can talk about their own accomplishments that have come about as a result of investing creative energy. For example, they can reveal personal successes or productive outcomes they’ve achieved through creative thought and purposeful action, or describing how famous “others” have prevailed (such as Disney, J. K. Rowling, and those in fields of endeavor that are of particular interest to the child). Encourage kids to ask questions, seek answers, think things through, be inventive, stay open-minded, and exercise patience.
Question #2. Does creativity come from within?
Answer: Creativity is everywhere—kids’ surroundings are comprised of countless influences, such as the myriad sounds they hear, the nuances of light and color they see, or the original combinations of flavors they taste on any given day. Because creativity is all around us, and because it pervades every domain, it seeps into kids lives, spurring their thoughts, and influencing their behavior and responses. Yes, creative expression may come forth from within the child like a wellspring, in the form of original art, music, movement, words, or other means. But that innovative response is a personal melding and conveyance of what has been acquired externally, as a result of tapping wonder, cultivating curiosity, and being open to and learning from experience. (For more on what drives children’s creativity click here.)
Moreover, creativity often flows from collaborative effort and sharing—including chatter, laughter, discussion, debate, family gatherings, and fine-tuning—and is very much a meandering and merging of many minds over time. Creativity is an interactive and fluid outcome in addition to being a more personal or introspective outpouring.
What can parents do? Encourage kids to be curious and to appreciate the world and all its realities—the textures, sights, and smells. The conventional and the unconventional; the big and the little; the obstacles and the solutions; the old and the new. Nature. Relationships. Controversies. Surprises. Pleasures. Shifting cultures and different contexts. The time children spend reflecting on their own is valuable and productive. However, parents can also facilitate opportunities for get-togethers, exploration, play, open communication, team effort, and greater awareness of what transpires near and far, morning, noon, and night.
It’s important for parents to help to dispel misunderstandings about creativity, and to think carefully about answers to questions that arise. And, how can parents take action? By chatting about creativity with kids. By showing them how to stretch the parameters of expression, inquiry, discovery, and accomplishment. By encouraging divergent thought. And, by enabling children to express themselves proactively, reactively, imaginatively, and thoughtfully.
For more information on topics related to this article visit www.beyondintelligence.net and see Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids, as well as Being Smart about Gifted Education (by Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster) And, for suggestions on motivating children and helping them tap their capacities to the fullest, check out Joanne’s book Not Now, Maybe Later.
For additional articles on topics about children and creativity (for example, what kills creativity in kids; whether procrastinators are creative; what productivity and creativity have in common; and ways to support children’s intelligence and creativity), go to “Fostering Kids’ Success” under the education banner at The Creativity Post.
Researcher and author Gillian Judson discusses sense of wonder, including what happens when children glimpse the extraordinary or unexpected within the world. In a recent article on engaging imagination, she writes, “Wonder evokes questions. Wonder fuels curiosity.” The article is accessible here.