Creativity might be defined as putting things together in novel ways, or seeing the world, or a given problem, with fresh eyes. While some people are born with talent in certain mediums -- an artist’s eye, for instance, or perfect pitch, or a writer’s way with words -- I believe that everyone has the capacity to be creative. All of us need access to creativity to solve the problems of daily life, and all of us need creative outlets to live fully.
We can’t give people talent, but we can train the eye and the ear and the mind, and we can help our children gain access to a creative way of seeing. We can also help them gain the concentration, competence, perseverance, and optimism necessary to succeed in creative pursuits.
1.Focus on play and process, not productivity..
When kids do art to solicit positive comments from adults, sometimes they can’t wait to finish another work. Obviously, it isn’t how many works they produce, it’s how engaged they are in the process. If you affirm how hard they’re working on that work, they don’t have to rush through it to the next one for your approval.
2.Give your child permission to be different.
Inventive, original kids are often seen as different by other kids. A little wacky, perhaps, or just plain odd. Make it okay for your child to be out of step with the norms of her peer group, to be unique, to see the world through her own glasses. To develop her individuality, she needs your support against the pressures of popular culture.
3.Establish a place for art supplies
Establish a place for art supplies early on, that is both easily accessible and neat. It should include drawers or bins for washable markers, paper, clay, and anything else you feel comfortable adding as your children get older (beads, collage materials, stamps and inkpads, etc.) I don’t suppose I need to say this, but coloring books don’t exactly foster creativity; plain paper is infinitely better. Blocks, with their infinite possibilities, generally offer more creative play opportunities than more sophisticated building materials. Many four year olds can build with blocks for hours every day; it helps develop mathematical, spatial and problem-solving abilities.
4.Make creative art play easy.
If your child can initiate art activities without your help, he’s more likely to create art when the spirit moves him. The best gift we ever received was a small plastic tray for our daughter to put her paper in as she worked, but a designated cookie sheet with a rim works just as well. (You’ll need one for each kid, and to wash them after messy projects.) Kids can do art with no worry, since crayon marks, glitter, play dough, etc all have a contained space. You still need rules (“Playdough stays on the tray”, “Mom has to supervise pouring the glitter” “We always put newspaper down when we paint”) but creative arts become more a part of your child's everyday life, as they become "his."
5.Encourage kids to create together.
While we usually think of creativity as an individual pursuit, sometimes the most rewarding creative experiences come from people working together. The most creative and innovative organizations are known for encouraging teamwork, because the best ideas are often a product of collaboration. So whether children are building with blocks or writing a story, it's worth supporting them to work through the challenges inherent in creating with another person, because the experience can be transformative.
6.Don’t be afraid of boredom.
Parents often respond to kids’ boredom by providing structured activities or technological entertainment. But unstructured time challenges kids to engage with themselves and the world, to imagine and invent and create. Kids need practice with unstructured time, or they will never learn to manage it.
Even more important, children need empty time to explore their inner and outer worlds, which is the beginning of creativity. So how to respond when kids complain that they’re bored? Help them brainstorm about possible activities, but make it clear that it’s their job to figure out how to enjoy their own time.