Nurturing Children’s Creative Wellness During COVID-19

Nurturing Children’s Creative Wellness During COVID-19

Education March 26, 2020 / By Joanne Foster, EdD
Nurturing Children’s Creative Wellness During COVID-19
SYNOPSIS

The world faces a pandemic, and many families are home. Life as we know it has changed. However, there are creative avenues parents and children can explore. Here’s why—and over 30 ways how.

“We must use time creatively.”

~ Martin Luther King

I’ve been reading about the benefits of spending time at home wisely. This includes carving out a routine, exercising, moderating exposure to the news, and also embracing creativity. I write a LOT about creativity, so that last recommendation really strikes home. Literally. (Double zinger!) 

However, when serious matters assault the mind and encumber the spirit, and when people feel confined or isolated, it can be exceedingly difficult to eke out creative juices. This is true for adults and for children. Nevertheless, with home-based learning now taking the place of formal schooling for families, parents are looking to infuse creative aspects into various kinds of activities. 

When circumstances are challenging or life is turbulent, creativity can help. (See Creative Expression: A Source of Solace and Strength.) Creativity can be a powerful antidote; an elixir for the soul. It may not cure COVID-19 (unless someone can also create a vaccine) but it can help make the shared experience of this devastating outbreak more bearable.

FAMILY-ORIENTED STRATEGIES FOR UPPING THE CREATIVITY FACTOR

I’ve written often about the importance of creativity (at The Creativity Post, and elsewhere.) However, today I cut to the chase for quick and easy reference by parents who want to encourage and support their children’s creativity NOW. I present many ideas that I’ve discussed previously but that I’d like to reemphasize during this extraordinary, unprecedented time. And, I provide direct links to several resources that I think will be useful for families. 

LINK #1: Here are 8 fundamental ways to help nurture children’s creative expression (excerpted from Crafts and Creativity):

  • Have different kinds of materials on hand so kids can explore a variety of creative possibilities. 
  • Ensure that activities are safe, and properly supervised. Be available to provide guidance and answer questions.
  • Encourage children to share their ideas, and to talk about what they're creating. 
  • Keep activity timelines open and flexible. 
  • Co-create reasonable expectations. Activities should be appropriately challenging, and developmentally suitable. 
  • Amplify the fun. 
  • Remember that children’s choices, interests, and creative impulses are likely to be in flux, so be supportive of that. 
  • Help kids appreciate the practical aspects of creative activities. For example, there’s skill-building (such as hand-eye coordination, concentration, and manual dexterity). Creativity can also help with problem-solving, lead to new ideas, and provide joy! 


LINK #2: The next 10 suggestions are culled from Sensible Ways to Encourage Children’s Intelligence and Creativity. In a nutshell:

  • Help children understand why something is worth doing.
  • Offer genuine and constructive praise.
  • Help kids learn from their mistakes. 
  • Seek out and take advantage of support networks, online liaisons, and  resources.
  • Become more knowledgeable about intelligence-building, and ways to stoke creativity.  
  • Monitor children’s momentum as they proceed. 
  • Help kids anticipate change, deal with it, and use it to advantage. 
  • Become an advocate for children’s learning—and connect with other advocates as well.
  • Make time for play, relaxation, and reflection. 
  • Model reading, open communication, and curiosity. Convey an attitude that shows and reinforces that every day is a chance to learn new things and contribute to the greater good.    


LINK #3: In the article Eat a Cookie I offer 25 tips to help children express and extend their creativity. (BTW - The article’s title refers to the fact that we get stuck sometimes and may need a little extra incentive. “Keep calm and eat cookies,” advised Cookie Monster.) Here are several tips to consider: 

  • Encourage children’s questions. Be responsive to them. 
  • Be accommodating of individual areas of strength (or weakness) in different domains. 
  • Stay open to wacky ideas. And, to far-fetched or seemingly sophisticated ones, too.
  • Encourage reading, writing, open communication, and the use of technology.
  • Beware of overload, complexity, scrutiny, and pushiness.
  • Reinforce reflection. It enables children to link experiences with ideas, and then to explore and extend those ideas.
  • Promote a sense of purpose. It fuels momentum.
  • Show faith in children’s abilities so they can feel confident about their skills, and about what they already know. Creativity builds from acquired knowledge. 
  •  Support and also model curiosity. It is one of life’s greatest gifts. 
  • Help kids become resourceful. It can spark inquisitiveness and lead kids in exciting new directions. 
  • Encourage children to critique their own ideas, and to go forward from there. 
  • Let kids know that creativity can be messy—and that’s just fine. 
  • Be patient. Don’t rush children’s creative endeavors. Give them enough time and space to consolidate their thoughts—and to revisit, revise, and augment them. And to rest, if necessary. 
  • Respect children’s feelings on any given day, and realize that these can fluctuate. 
  • Tap supportive circles comprised of family and friends.
  • Check out the many articles accessible on the Resources Page of my websiteFor example, here are four direct links:

o  “Aha!” Moments

o  What If Kids Avoid or Struggle with Creativity?

o  Creative Expression: Are Some Kids Missing Out?

o  Explaining Creativity to Kids 

LAST WORDS

The future depends on creativity and progress.”

ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids, p. 103

Like most people, I continue to seek answers to questions about what’s happening around the globe, hoping to find sensible, compassionate, and informed ways to address increasingly mounting concerns. I know that wellness is not just instinctual—it is nurtured. It involves embracing hope, responsibility, patience, caring, common sense, resilience, physical and emotional health, and the realization that we are all joined at the hip. Every individual is different but as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc, we are learning that humanity is as one. I pray that our creativity helps to sustain our families, and that it provides a way to defeat this deadly disease. 

 

READING AND RESOURCES 

Joanne Foster’s most recent book is ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids: Hundreds of Ways to Inspire Your Child.  Readers can find further information about optimal child development by checking out Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids (by Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster). Dr. Foster also wrote Bust Your BUTS: Tips for Teens Who Procrastinate (recipient of the Independent Book Publishers’ Association’s 2018 Silver Benjamin Franklin Award), and its predecessor Not Now, Maybe Later: Helping Children Overcome Procrastination. To learn more about these books, and for access to a wide range of articles and links, please go to www.joannefoster.ca. Information about professional development workshops and speaker sessions with Dr. Foster can also be found at this website. Her new Instagram account is @fosteringkidssuccess

For excellent resources on supporting and encouraging creativity and gifted/high-level development see the assortment of material at Gifted Unlimited LLC.  

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