That frantic search for a
pencil or pen as I grab my bag, sunnies, keys and granddaughter in the race to
get out the door and pick up her older sister from school. That’s me at least
once a week.
Why the pencil or pen? To go
with the little granddaughter’s drawing book – something to keep her occupied
as we wait in the car for school to end. The earlier we leave, the better
chance of finding a decent parking spot. But then, the longer we have to wait.
Why is it so hard to find a pen
or pencil in a house occupied by journalists and art teachers? No idea. I think
they hide. They take the granddaughter’s little drawing book with them.
Granted, it’s not the biggest problem in the scheme of things. In fact, now it’s not a problem at all because I’ve solved it with the wacky solution to creativity. Let me tell you how.
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 business 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
Here are some of the secrets creative parents already know
and how they are using them to foster creativity and creative thinking in their
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
It’s natural for them to want to pass these rewards onto
Most parents want to 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 down play 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.
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.
It comes with extra rewards for children. Creativity can make them smarter and stronger and help reduce stress.
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
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 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 dependant 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
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
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
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
Tool box treasures such as nuts, bolts and
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.
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
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
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
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
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 sustainable when it taps into the child’s interests.
“For what we are about to eat may the Lord make us truly
That was our pre-meal prayer when I was at school. I remember
it not so much because of the gratitude I felt, but because we said it a lot and
most of us raced through the little prayer, eager to eat.
In later years it struck me how remote that little sentence
seemed. It didn’t thank the plants and animal life for their sacrifice. It didn’t
thank the food producers, the farmers, or the school cooks who worked
tirelessly. This is probably a good thing. As teenagers, we were ravenous at
meal times and having to give more thanks and delay eating could have caused a
It was a gesture at gratitude and I’m sure some students
maybe ignored their rumbling tummies long enough to feel thankful.
But it didn’t really honour all the elements and hard work
that went into providing the meals.
So how do we honour what we have? And how does doing so help us to achieve inner
It’s interesting that the first part of the word ‘optimism’
spells ‘opt’ because being optimistic is a choice that you can opt in or out
That’s probably the most important thing we can impress on our children. Optimism is a choice. And choice is a superpower.
We all become discouraged at times. For children, the
frustrations are great because they’re trying to learn so much at once and
often don’t have the focus, patience and wisdom to understand that practice is
key to achieving their goals.
At the first sign a failure, a child may become morose and feel
that they will never achieve their goals.
When we promote optimism in kids, we teach them to welcome
mistakes as vital learning tools.
This in turn will give them the resilience and determination to
keep trying, rather than give up.
As we head towards Mother’s Day and the time for celebrating mums, one thing is clear. Not all mothers are created equal. That’s the truth.
However, good or bad, we all need them
– from the tiny ants that drink their own babies’ blood, to the majestic elephant
who carries her huge baby for 22 months before giving birth – every living
creature needs their mum.
No matter what you think of your own
mother, some of these mums will make you forever grateful for the one you have.