by Kris Thurgood, former elementary school teacher and current owner of My Girlfriend’s Quilt Shoppe

You’re so creative!

I don’t have a creative bone in my body.

I wish I was creative like..

Have you caught yourself saying these things to yourself over the years? I talk to people everyday who share these sentiments. However, I dare say that this doesn’t have to be the case for any of us, and especially not for our children. We can all develop skills of creativity, and we can optimize creative attributes in our children while they’re young. 

foster creativityHere are three ways to help us do it: 

  1. In an age where we are often rushing from one event to another, it’s important to give our children TIME and SPACE to be creative. In fact, we should insist on it. It’s much easier to hand over a game station, but I know my kids NEED to be outside playing, riding bikes, building forts, coloring on blank paper or playing dress-up in my old prom dresses. Limiting TV and screen time will help children get creative and spend time doing things like read for pleasure, draw a pattern for a unique pillow on the sewing machine or experiment with a new ingredient to their favorite cookie recipe in the kitchen. Creative messes are bound to happen, but the benefits of allowing children time and space to be creative far outweigh the momentary cleanup that will be required afterward.
  2. Brainstorm together ideas  of things that would be fun to try this summer. My sister and brother-in-law’s family like to start each summer with a “boredom list” full of activities they can do when they begin feeling bored. They encourage their children to come up with ideas of things they’ve never tried before.
  3. Evaluate during and after the creative process. The emphasis here is not to judge the final outcome, rather to talk about the process of creativity. Questions such as, “Did you have fun?”, “What was it like to …..”, “Do you think you’d change anything next time?” or “What was the hardest part about….” are all great conversation starters. Helping children evaluate and develop solutions to problems will help foster both creative thinking and the lifelong skill of flexible thinking. Successful children and adults know that there is more than one way to do things. Teaching flexibility and innovation is something that will stay with your children throughout their lives. Allowing children to experiment, and perhaps to fail, without judgment is essential to the creative spirit.

Your child doesn’t have to be an aspiring artist or musician to reap the benefits of a creative life. In fact, creativity comes in all forms and is not about talent or being better than anyone else. Creativity enhances all facets of life, develops problem-solving skills and gives children a zest for life that will last forever.