Creativity has become a buzzword – the Holy Grail that will help us be happier, healthy, more productive and better equipped to deal with life in general.
We mourn the lack of creative programs in mainstream schools and businesses fork out thousands of dollars every year on creative thinking exercises for their employees.
There is a general recognition that advances in technology will change the way we work and live.
Already, the need for manual labour has diminished to the point many businesses are now obsolete, meaning very human traits – such as creativity – are highly sought after.
With a future that looks particularly bright for creative people and creative thinkers, and schools more focused on academic outcomes than fostering these traits, what’s a parent to do to prepare their kids for the future?
Here are some of the secrets creative parents already know and how they are using them to foster creativity and creative thinking in their children.
Creative parents are already reaping the benefits of their creativity. They have felt firsthand the rewards of how creativity makes them happier, healthier, more focused, more confident, more productive and more flexible.
It’s natural for them to want to pass these rewards onto their children.
Most parents want the same for their kids. However, those who are not actively involved in creative pursuits may not fully understand the vital role creativity plays in developing these traits.
Some may downplay the importance of creativity on the grounds that they are living happy and productive lives without it. Of course, these parents do not have the benefit of knowing what they, and possibly their kids, are missing. And, if predictions for the future are accurate, creativity will be more important than it ever has been.
LIFE IS A CREATIVE ADVENTURE
It’s important to note the distinction between being creative and being actively involved in creativity. As I mentioned in my post, How to Use Creativity to Increase Joy and Lose Anxiety, every day we are all being creative to some extent.
Living life is a creative adventure, whether we realise it or not. When we set a table, cook a meal, juggle finances or create a schedule, we are being creative.
Active creativity is different though. Active creativity is when we are fully focused on making or inventing things.
That pursuit, with all its hurdles and frustrations, offers the little pot of gold at the end that is full of the rewards mentioned above.
Educators know this and even our leaders are starting to acknowledge the importance of creativity for happier and healthier kids.
Last year, the NSW, Australia, Government introduced the Active Kids voucher to help parents pay for healthy physical activities for their children, in recognition of the importance to health of physical movement.
This year, the Creative Kids voucher was introduced. This one helps parents pay for creative pursuits for their children – a recognition of the importance of fostering creativity in kids.
Whether you are a creative parent or not, you can help promote creativity and creative thinking in your kids with these tips.
THE SECRETS CREATIVE PARENTS ALREADY KNOW – SPACE
The first secret that creative parents know has already been revealed – active creativity is a vital ingredient in the recipe for raising happy and healthy kids.
With demands on parents’ time and money at a premium, how can this be achieved?
The first things to consider are time and space.
Having an allocated space for creative pursuits provides a positive environment for creativity. It’s a win-win for parents and children. Parents win because the mess is restricted to that area and children win because the area is free from other distractions that can reduce their focus. Active creativity requires a lot of focus.
For that reason, the space you choose should be free of electronic devices and toys that can be a huge distraction.
The creativity space should be free of things that can stifle creative play for fear of damaging them, such as carpet that could be stained by paints and other materials.
If you don’t have that kind of space where you live, you could set up a creativity space outside. The downside of this is that it is weather dependent and it is often during inclement weather that we get our biggest urges to be creative.
THE SECRETS CREATIVE PARENTS ALREADY KNOW – TIME
Time is another huge issue for parents who are juggling jobs, school schedules and after school activities. Weekends are often packed with sporting and family commitments, leaving little time for creative pursuits.
Parents who understand the importance of promoting creativity manage to fit creative time into their hectic schedules, either with one to one activities or by taking their kids to a creativity school, such as Wacky Workshops.
Interestingly, the majority of the parents of Wacky Workshops students are highly creative in their own right. One would think they could lead their own creative adventures with their children and, in fact, they do.
However, some recognise the fact they are limited in what they can offer because they don’t have the ideal space and they don’t want to deal with the mess. This is an important consideration because a parent who is stressed about the mess being created can subconsciously put restrictions on the child’s creativity.
Other parents choose creativity schools because they have other children at home who can be a distraction and a deterrent to a child’s sense of freedom and adventure when it comes to artistic endeavours.
THE SECRETS CREATIVE PARENTS ALREADY KNOW – MATERIALS
The thing about kids is, they’ll naturally experiment with what they know and what is offered to them. Offer them more, and they’ll experiment and discover more, leading them to creative thinking.
Some parents will book their child into an art school because their child has shown an interest and ability for drawing or painting. While it’s wonderful to encourage and promote these interests, it’s equally important to expose them to other forms of creativity. Perhaps they are good at drawing because drawing materials are the only ones available. Offer them other materials and they just might discover that their building, sculpting, painting or other abilities are even better.
Creative parents know the need for experimenting with a wide variety of methods and materials is what leads to the satisfaction and rewards of creativity, as well as the discovery of what truly grabs your imagination and passion.
For that reason, a creativity space should be packed with choices of materials. Some are obvious, like pencils, paint, glue and scissors. However, there are so many more materials you could add to help them think beyond the obvious such as;
SOME MATERIAL SUGGESTIONS
- Rocks, sticks, leaves and other nature finds
- Clay for sculpting
- Recyclables such as plastic bottles, tin cans, bottle lids, cardboard boxes, eggs cartons, wine corks, cardboard rolls etc
- Toolbox treasures such as nuts, bolts and washers
- Plaster and plaster bandage
- A variety of beads and embellishments
- Old newspapers (great for paper mache among other things) and magazines for collages
Another important secret creative parents know is that, while it’s important to have an array of materials on hand, it’s equally important to choose just a few to work with at one time and not bombard the children with too many things. This can make them feel confused and daunted.
THE SECRETS CREATIVE PARENTS ALREADY KNOW – OUTCOMES
A big secret creative parents know is that the outcome is not important when promoting creativity in kids.
The picture doesn’t have to be pretty. The sculpture doesn’t have to make sense. Some artists have gained fame by creating works that many consider truly ugly. Read my post Think You Are Not an Artist? This is Why You’re Wrong.
When kids are creating, it’s important to allow plenty of freedom for discovery and that means much of their work could end up in a big messy blob. That’s part of the learning process. Young kids will love and be proud of everything they do with the right support. As they grow in age and skills they become more discerning and expect more from themselves. They cannot happily get to this stage without a safe and non-judgemental environment in which to experiment.
Creative parents understand the need to step back and avoid too much input. It is, after all, the child’s turn to create – not the parents’.
Creative parents also know there is a fine line between too much praise and not enough. They show delight in their children’s efforts but keep the praise realistic and regularly use curiosity as a way of communicating with their kids about the project.
They ask questions about the work, such as “You’ve drawn a lot of staircases in this picture. Where do they lead?” or “I can see you’ve chosen to use a lot of black paint in this painting. Can you tell me why?”
THE SECRETS CREATIVE PARENTS ALREADY KNOW – COMMUNICATION/EXPRESSION
With the right questions, parents can learn a lot about their children through their creations. Art offers a wonderful non-verbal way of communication, which is vital for kids who sometimes don’t have the words to express themselves.
You may not be amazed at what your child has created. You may not even like it. But you can use curiosity to help understand what they are thinking. This is an important parenting skill that will be invaluable when your kids become teens.
Ask questions – why they chose a colour, why some lines are darker, why some objects are bigger than others. The answers may surprise you and give you much greater insight into your child’s thinking.
THE SECRETS CREATIVE PARENTS ALREADY KNOW – PASSIONS AND INTERESTS
Another secret creative parents know is the inventive and discovery stage of creation is so much more fun and tempting when it revolves around something you are already interested in.
Even kids who know they are good at and love drawing can struggle to start a picture when they are told to draw what they want. The blank page can be intimidating.
Tap into their interests, though, and they become prolific creators.
Just recently a new student arrived at Wacky Workshops who was quite shy and unsure of himself.
He didn’t know where to start, so I showed him some examples of different drawing techniques and how to do them.
I could see this wasn’t totally inspiring him so brought out the paints and impasto and showed him some fun techniques with those.
He enjoyed these projects and when he was relaxed enough, he admitted he loved tigers. I showed him a play jungle created by another student and asked if he’d like to make one with some tigers in it. His little eyes lit up and he was excited for the next lesson, instead of daunted.
Creative parents who use creativity schools understand they are very focused on their own creative endeavours which can make it difficult for them to switch over to a craft that inspires their kids, such as making play jungles or paper mache money boxes.
Evidence suggests sustained creativity occurs when a passion is ignited. When the creator is creating something in line with their own interests, giving them a sense of joy. Inspiring kids to be creative involves allowing them the freedom to discover their own passions.
THE SECRETS CREATIVE PARENTS ALREADY KNOW – SUMMARY
Any parent, creative or not, can foster creativity in their kids and watch them reap the benefits of it by tapping into the secrets creative parents already know.
- Creativity is important for a healthy and happy life and may be absolutely vital for success in the future.
- Having the right space is a major consideration when fostering creativity in kids.
- Parents who understand the importance of creativity will make the time to include it in their child’s schedule, just as they find time for sporting activities and school homework.
- Providing an array of interesting materials to experiment with is key to promoting creativity in kids.
- Children need the opportunity and freedom to create without too much adult input and without judgement.
- Creativity helps children express themselves and helps parents to understand their kids better.
- Creativity is more fun, and therefore more
sustainablewhen it taps into the child’s interests.
Not sure where to start? Visit the shop and buy The Wacky Pack – Smart Art Start (Australian residents only), which is loaded with fun creative activities for kids aged 5-10.
If you’d like to be more creative in your own right and need some ideas, download your free copy of Draw for Joy, the ultimate guide to art therapy exercises you can do at home. It is packed with creative projects that actually work to improve your mood.
Have a gleeful week, Tamuria.