- Raising Creative Kids: Teaching What Our Schools Won’t
When it comes to raising creative kids, I have a LOVE/HATE relationship with our public schools. While there are many merits to celebrate, there are also areas where our kids are being hindered and starved. My biggest complaint is in the creative thinking department.
Our efforts to save a couple bucks with relentless budget cuts are depriving our children opportunities for growth as innovators, creators, and intellectuals. Instead of encouraging and inspiring our next generation to free-think, we are teaching them to memorize data and regurgitate facts. Hardly an atmosphere for nurturing the next Steve Jobs, Einstein, or Mark Zuckerburg.
So what’s a parent to do? Quite frankly, we must do what our schools won’t.
We must challenge and inspire our children to fight convention, dream the impossible, and question authority.
As Einstein once proclaimed, “There’s no great talent without an element of madness.” Tape those words to your fridge and let them serve as a daily reminder to spark a little madness in your child.
Only when children are permitted to stop mindlessly following leaders, are they able to BECOME leaders.
As parents, it’s our duty to give them that permission. Below you’ll find some great tips for taking those small steps towards raising creative kids.
Encourage Them To Answer Their Own Questions
Nothing is easier than “googling” answers these days, but where’s the challenge in that? The next time your child asks a question, let THEM create the answer before handing over the facts. For example, “Mommy, how do we see?” You: “Great question sweetie! We use our brain and our eyes to see, why don’t you draw me a picture of how you think all that works? What do YOU think happens behind our eyes that allows us to see?” Grab paper and pencil and then let their imagination run wild. You might be amazed at what they come up with? Once they’ve completed and explained their theory, you can then seek out the real answer. Were they close? Help explain the correct answer and point out any similarities. For example, did they draw a big mirror inside the brain? If so, you can compare that image to how our eyes “reflect” light. By exploring these “connections” you can help them retain more information from these learning adventures.
Ask THEM Why
Kids are notorious for asking the “Why” question relentlessly. Any parent who’s attempted a road trip has fallen victim to this never-ending line of questioning. In all fairness, why not turn the tables on them? Ask them “why” they are doing a particular activity, drawing, movement, etc. For example, if they’ve been doodling circles for 15 minutes straight, ask them “Why is it fun to draw circles like that?” Depending on their answer, you can ask another question. The goal is to get them to explore the reasoning behind their own behaviors. Teaching them to be introspective about their thoughts and behaviors strengthens their problem-solving skills. They learn to not just “accept” events, but to uncover the underlying motives, thoughts, and feelings. This free-thinking exercise will pay dividends when problem-solving more complex situations.
Find Strategy in Everyday Tasks
Every day life takes strategy. If you don’t believe me, think back to the last time you navigated through a construction site, figured out how to save an extra 20% on your daughter’s birthday present by joining a reward program, or salvaged the homemade noodles when you realized you were one egg short halfway through the recipe. Whether you realize it or not, all those feats took creative thinking, resourcefulness, and ingenuity. Successful completion of those activities were threatened to be derailed by unforeseen circumstances that required strategic thinking to overcome. Why not let your kids do the strategic thinking next time? Explain to them the situation and let them talk through with you potential solutions. This exercise not only teaches them resiliency, but it trains them to think strategically. They won’t just see obstacles in life, they will see options. Overcoming setbacks isn’t an overwhelming task anymore, but a fun exercise for flexing their brain power.
What are your thoughts? How do you encourage creativity in your kids? Chime in below…