When many of us think about creativity we think of the arts. I often imagine an artist painting in a studio or a musician composing music but creative thinking also exists in mathematics, science, and athletics. Children exhibit interest in different areas and we can encourage the behaviors that lead to creative thinking within their chosen area. A child needs just one adult– a mentor, parent, teacher, coach or counselor who recognizes their interests and encourages them to develop their talent.
The creative process requires that we take risks, are curious, disciplined, as well as motivated. In addition to certain behaviors, the creative process requires that a person take time for play, solitude and reflection. When we support our child’s interests we also increase their creative thinking. The ways we go about encouraging them depends upon their interests and their age.
One of the easiest things we can do to support our children is to value creativity and to provide experiences related to their interest. In her book, Understanding Creativity, Jane Piirto calls it having a family script or family mythology. Examples of a family script are:
- “In our family, we value the arts and talk about art.”
- “In our family, we value sports. We go to games, talk about how the team is doing and invest in good sports equipment.”
- “In our family, we love science. We discuss new scientific discoveries and spend time going to science museums and exhibits.”
- “In our family we value music. We attend music concerts, invest in music lessons, listen to and play music at home.”
- “In our family we value reading. Everyone in the family has a library card and we talk about the books.”
- “In our family we value the great outdoors. We spend time hiking, camping and improving our outdoor skills.”
Sometimes our personal interests match that of our children and sometimes they do not. Disapproval by parents of their child’s interest requires that another family member, teacher, or coach provide encouragement. Eminent dancers, gymnasts, scientist, writers and others often remark on the support or lack of support they receive from their family.
In my family, I try to encourage all three of kids’ interests especially in the cases when societal messages are discouraging. I created a science themed bathroom after my daughter mentioned she was interested in becoming a chemist. I also began to encourage her slime making and concocting a bit more enthusiastically.
A family culture that values creativity is one easy way to support our children and their interests. In addition to creating a family script, we can also provide materials and supplies for our children to use freely and with imagination. In my next post, I will write about materials to have on hand that encourage playfulness, exploration, and imagination as well as some resources for how to engage kids with new materials.