Children’s imaginations are far more precious than most of us realise: it’s all we have when we’ve stripped away the ‘stuff’ in our lives. Someone once said – ‘If it cannot be imagined (invention of the computer, cure for AIDS, a piece of art) then it cannot be.’ Creativity is the mother of invention (not just necessity)
Creativity is usually defined as putting things together that might be familiar in new ways – solving a problem with fresh insight and is very much linked to everyday life. To help children develop their creativity we have to give them practice at seeing things in different ways.
Creativity needs skills of perseverance, concentration and resilience. To be creative requires a deep level of optimism – the mind-set that I will get there in the end.
We need to make sure we don’t perpetuate the myth that creativity is a preserve of the talented few; (or worse - the ones that become alcoholics or depressives) and whose company we can never aspire to join.
Creativity isn’t a one-off event – it’s a slow burn - which can be cultivated if we do a bit of habit changing and engineer regular opportunities for children.
Less Television – I know it’s been said many times and I don’t want to be a nag but TV is a real mind killer. It’s numbing - full of passive images that dull the mind. Turn it off more often.
Let your children go outside alone – children are becoming prisoners in their own homes. How can they make up games, pick up worms, make mud pies, wonder what would happen if …..with adults always around supervising them? There is a balance to be made between their creative well-being and staying safe. Work out that balance and just do it.
Go outdoors with your children too – watch a full moon together, photograph nature, read aloud in the open air. Poetry is particularly great to read aloud outdoors.
Let children scribble, draw write and doodle with paper and pencils and other writing implements – not a computer. Encourage them to use writing and drawing as a way of forming ideas. Most inventors and writers do this as it can take weeks of collecting small ideas for the bigger ones to form.
Sing and dance - write songs – respond to music of all kinds. Expose your children to a wide range of music so they can develop an appreciation (if not a love) for some of it. Music speaks to parts of you that other things just can’t (the soul?)
Play with different materials – use different textures to create collages and pieces of home-made art. Using 3D can unlock all kinds of creativity in children. Don’t mind the mess – it’s worth it.
Time to sit still and in silence. How many times do you or your child get an opportunity to experience silence? It might be outside or indoors with candles or a meal that is eaten without talking. People say that children can’t sit still and be quiet. They can but need practice and to know what it feels like.
Visit art galleries – there’s loads of free ones still around thankfully. Time to stop and stare and ‘drink’ in the amazing brushstrokes, colour and storytelling that is in paintings and sculpture.
Opportunities to think - Starters for Thinking cards are one way to stimulate new ways of thinking. When children are faced with questions that have more than one answer, the imagination has to kick in and the brain work differently.
Creativity can be nurtured – children are naturally creative – we adults just have to make the time for the right kind of opportunities. All these are good for adult creativity too!!