During my Master’s program, I had the opportunity to take a creativity class. The class helped me explore the nature of creativity, examine the life of current creative people, and think about how we encourage creativity in different settings. Learning about creativity is what prompted me to turn the formal dining room into a creative space in 2016. The following post shares what I learned and how I turned our dining room into a creative space.
A Dedicated Space to Encourage Creativity
Encouraging creativity in the home provides children a way to explore ideas and materials in a non-threatening way. As children develop interest in developing specific talents, the home can be a place where they find the encouragement, the space, freedom, and solitude to grow their skills or talent through techniques found in deep practice. Creativity requires building trust in the home so that children feel comfortable taking risks and learning that failure is part of the creative process. In addition to helping children build the mindset of a creative person, the home can offer the time to play freely and imaginatively and the freedom to follow personal interests. It can also offer a place for solitude and quiet reflection. Children also need to see others make mistakes, fix them and try again when learning new skills.
The Core Attitudes of the Creative Process
based on Jane Piirto’s Understanding Creativity (2004): (affiliate link)
- Core Attitude of Naivete: being open to new experiences, observant, and curious
- Core Attitude of Self-Discipline: motivation to make, create, practice and develop one’s talent or skills
- Core Attitude of Risk-Taking: trying new things, the courage to fail and try again
- Core Attitude of Group Trust: developing trust among a group to collaborate on creative tasks and to encourage one another
Goals for the Space
- Family members should feel free to do work that inspires them
- A place to work alone or collaboratively on creative projects
- A place to practice both hard skills & soft
- A place to develop practice skills and the core attitudes for developing creativity
- A place for quiet reflection
The Physical Space
I want all families members to feel invited to create and work in the space. Creativity is a personal process, therefore it is crucial that the space foster independence and the freedom to move freely. The children need to have access to the materials they need to complete their chosen work.
The following questions serve as a guide for creating a space and an atmosphere that encourages creativity. The questions reflect important considerations to take before adding furniture and materials.
- How will the space be used?
- How does each family member like to work creatively?
- Do they work on big projects or do they prefer personal desk spaces?
- Does the space encourage freedom to move and to work independently?
- Is there a quiet place to reflect or read?
- What furniture and materials will be used?
- What materials will be needed?
- What storage is available?
- Where can work in progress be stored?
Creating a sparse environment for five people with different interests means that the learning space requires the minimum amount of furniture and materials necessary to complete a chosen project. The space needs no additional decorative elements because the materials, furniture and completed works reflect the creativity of people who use the space.
In The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skill, Daniel Coyle (affiliate link) explains that the key piece of creative spaces is that they are humble and bare so that creators can focus. Coyle (2009) explains that “luxury is a motivational narcotic: It signals our unconscious minds to give less effort. It whispers, Relax, you’ve made it.” (p. 15). Below is a photo of an ASU art classroom. It is bare bones and humble.
With five family members keeping our space clutter free remains a constant challenge. The creative space should provide inspiration and contain the materials needed to complete work. In my home I also want the space to allow for collaborative work to build trust among the members of the family.
This rolling cart holds paper and other small materials in the drawers. All materials are frequently used by the different members of the family. The light table is used often by the kids to draw their favorite characters.
Using the Creative Learning Space
The kids use this space after school and on weekends. They have expressed interest in doing certain types of creative work . By providing the materials to do that work they are able to pursue their interests independently. I also have my own materials and supplies so that I can focus on my own projects. Because I am often doing my own project, I am free to offer encouragement or provide feedback when asked rather than judging their work and/or taking it over. Which I’ve been know to do :-(.
Since providing a space for encouraging the kids to pursue their own interests, I have noticed that the kids engage in more self-chosen projects. They seem to work more purposefully and independently.
As I look through the photos of our creative space and reflect on how we use it, I notice it is time to organize and declutter the space. I also need to find a spot for my own quiet work, since we turned the desk into a family computer station.
Coyle, Daniel (2012). The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills. New York, NY: Bantam Books
Coyle, Daniel (2009). The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. New York, NY: Bantam Books
Piirto, Jane. (2004). Understanding Creativity. Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential Press, Inc.