Creativity is defined by The New Oxford American Dictionary as the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. Creativity can be applied to anything we do or think about, and while some people are naturally more creative than others, it is a skill that can be learned. Each person differs in the ways that they are creative and just because a person is not artistic, doesn’t mean he or she isn’t creative. For example, an engineer can be creative in the way he puts working parts together, a mathematician may be creative in the way she solves a problem, and a chef may be creative in the way he puts ingredients together.
Everyone can learn to think more creatively, and by engaging in certain activities with your child, you can help encourage his or her creativity.
1) Expand on your child’s existing strengths – Instead of trying to help your child be more artistic if he or she struggles with it, focus on helping your child do something he or she is already proficient at more creatively. For example, if math is one of your son’s strengths, help him to determine additional ways that he can solve math problem. This will expand his thinking and help him learn that there is more than one way to solve any problem if you just think creatively about it. By building on their strengths, our children learn to love the creative process.
2) Focus on the process, not the result – One of the biggest creativity-killers is focusing on the end result. Creativity is all about the process, not the result. It takes place in the present. Help your child embrace the moment and enjoy the creative process.
3) Throw out perfectionism – While producing neat work in school is important, coloring within the lines all the time encourages your child to only think inside the box. To learn how to encourage creativity in kids, provide opportunities for your child to throw out neatness and perfectionism and to think outside of the box.
4) Reduce the limits you put on your child – It is of course important to set strong limits when it comes to your child’s safety, but when there are too many limits put on him or her, you are teaching your child to not think outside of the box. Teach flexibility and openness whenever possible to inspire creative thinking.
5) Inspire new ways of completing normal tasks – This is a fun way to learn how to encourage creativity in kids. If your child needs to clean her room, help her get inspired by listening to music as she cleans. Provide new dipping sauces for your child to dip his vegetables in. Take a new route home and look at the scenery together. If your child normally studies for tests by reading through a study sheet, have her make flashcards this time. Encourage your child to build Lego creations out of his head instead of from instructions (help him out the first time if he is struggling). The more times you present your child with different ways to do things, the more your child will start to think creatively on his or her own.
6) Be creative! – Our kids learn by watching us, so if you want to teach your kids creativity, you need to model it for them. By trying to encourage something you aren’t also doing yourself, you will be contradicting yourself and it will be much more difficult for your child to think creatively as a result.
7) Practice brainstorming – Have brainstorming sessions with your child on a normal basis. For example, brainstorm things like: what to do on Saturday, ideas for a birthday party, what they can draw in their sketchbook and what games they can play with their friends.
8) Ask for their ideas – When we constantly tell our children what to do, we are cutting off their creative thinking. One of the best ways to learn how to encourage creativity in kids is to remember to ask their opinion on a normal basis. Encourage their ideas and thoughts.
9) Make mistakes okay – Creative thinking requires some risk-taking, and along with risk-taking comes the inevitable mistake. Mistakes will happen and your child needs to know that it’s okay to make those mistakes. New inventions are not made on the first try, and “failures” and “mistakes” are just part of the course that leads to victory.
10) Present questions without answers – One of the best ways to spark creativity is to answer questions that don’t actually have an answer. By removing the fear of being “wrong,” this technique helps children use their wildest imaginations to come up with “crazy” ideas. The more crazy, the better! This is a great game to play at dinnertime. Here are some ideas: