Our children are becoming less creative and it could be affecting their ability to learn.
Isn’t that a horrifying thought?
Studies have shown that children’s creativity tends to decrease with age. Most notably from kindergarten to grade three.
The reason is thought to be a combination of strict school curriculums and standardised tests plus extra time in front of screens, such as television, computers and smartphones.
This is sad news, for the kids and the world in general.
Using imagination and creativity is vital to children’s mental health.
According to clinical psychologist Dr Ben Michaelis, getting children to focus on the products of their imagination is vital to their individual mental health and the world.
The effort that we use when we are actually making things helps us to learn new and innovative ways of thinking.
This is important for the world, as the children are our future leaders, policymakers, inventors, scientists and researchers.
HOW CHILDREN LEARN MORE THROUGH CREATIVITY
A 2010 study, which examined results from around 300,000 creativity tests since 1990, showed that today’s children are less likely to produce unique and unusual ideas.
This study was based in the USA, taking into account their Torrance tests, which measure divergent thinking in children.
However, Australian children are having just as much screen time and their teachers have the same time constraints and demands on them as their USA counterparts.
those who are.
According to the Child Development Institute, children who had higher exposure to art were better at reading and writing than their peers.
This claim was backed up by a study by Shirley Brice Heath of Stanford University.
According to this national (USA) study, children involved in non-school arts-based programs in under-resourced communities were four times more likely to win an academic award.
Sir Ken Robinson, an expert in learning and children’s education, says imagination is one of the key components of creativity and innovation.
He recognises that creativity and problem-solving are basic skills that everyone needs, but says learning to think outside the box is a skill that requires imagination and the ability to see things beyond reality.
Imagination is the source of all human achievment.
Sir Ken Robinson
Research also suggests encouraging children to be creative and imaginative can help them to be more resilient and resourceful in their adult years.
By working out ways to make and create things, children are using problem-solving skills and investigating different ways to find solutions.
Providing an open and friendly atmosphere for children to explore their creative side is empowering and promotes independence. It may also reveal hidden talents.
Creative play encourages divergent thinking – the ability to produce many ideas. Read How to Craft Your Way to a Better Life.
It also fosters originality, flexibility, and innovation.
There is some evidence that creative people have more goal-directed behaviour.
WHY CHILDREN LEARN MORE THROUGH CREATIVITY
Creative and imaginative play also increases self-esteem and confidence, as well as patience.
Young minds are spoon-fed colourful and busy activities on smartphones and computers.
Many of the games are educational and fun, but they also encourage instant gratification. All at once, children’s senses are bombarded with bright colours, information, and often music or dialogue.
This makes it hard to focus and encourages multitasking, which eliminates the opportunity for mindfulness.
When a child is making something by hand, he/she must discover the process involved and learn patience to complete the creation – if you try to do the next step before the glue is dry, the creation will fall apart.
Activities such as creating patterns tap into the same parts of the brain that we use for more complex problem solving later in life.
When a child is manipulating a tool, such as a paintbrush, he/she is practising fine motor skills.
Exploring the use of different materials in creative arts taps into the inner scientist.
Constructing and sculpting tap into the inner architect.
‘Mistakes’ lead to new discoveries and ingenuity, a vital skill in the worlds of art, science and technology.
HOW TO HELP CHILDREN LEARN MORE THROUGH CREATIVITY
So how can you help your child tap into their creative side?
Possibly one of the most important things you can do is play imaginative games with them.
We have some gold coloured underlay we use as a ‘magic carpet’ that can take us anywhere.
The Goddesses and I hold hands and close our eyes as we walk in circles on our magic carpet and discuss where we are going.
When we ‘arrive’ we open our eyes and are immediately ‘swimming’ in the ocean. We move our arms freestyle fashion and walk around remarking on the wonderful things we are seeing under the sea.
Sometimes we end up in the sky, ‘flying’ with the cockatoos.
Wherever we go, we make actions to match our adventures and describe the sights we are seeing.
Having some dress-up clothes on hand is a wonderful way to encourage the imagination. Read Imagination Station – What Will You Be Today?
Play around with creating wonderful treasures from nature.
You can even turn screen time into a chance for creative exploration. One of the Goddesses and I are currently in the process of reproducing the main characters in the Wizard of Oz – a movie we have watched together on several occasions.
We’ve made the Emerald City and a very cute tinman (with a heart!). We’ve also made Dorothy, the scarecrow and the lion and wizard. We are now working on the witches. Our creating often gets interrupted with imaginative play as we use our creations as props for our own stories.
When we didn’t like a sad part of a movie we watched, we used it as an opportunity to create our own happy ending.
OFFER OPPORTUNITIES TO CREATE THINGS WITH THEIR HANDS
It helps to have some decent craft supplies on hand as well as a good collection of recyclables.
If this is not your thing and you don’t want the mess, investigate arts and crafts schools in your area and focus on the less messy options such as play and storytelling games.
The fact is that schools are forced to follow a strict and busy curriculum. It may not allow for the time and opportunities needed to foster creativity and imaginative play. It is up to parents (and grandparents) to find practical ways to fill the gap.
Offering children a variety of activities to promote creativity and imagination, helps them discover what they excel at and enjoy doing most.
Children who find a creative activity they feel passionate about are more likely to stay interested in it. This can be a big help during the challenging teen years.
They will learn important skills, such as focus, patience, problem-solving, divergent thinking, ingenuity, flexibility, and innovation. This, in turn, could help them with their academic learning.
Do you want more ideas for encouraging creativity in children? Check out the Wacky Workshops section – a new craft project is posted regularly. Or you can sign up to Gleeful Greetings and have the project sent straight to your inbox each fortnight.
If you live in the lower Blue Mountains area and are looking for an arts and crafts school for children, check out The Wacky Workshops Page.
Wishing you a creative and gleeful week, Tamuria.
Teresa SalhiMarch 16, 2017 at 12:51 pm
Tamuria, you are making the children and the world a better place that I know for sure. Often as adults we don’t even know what we want and have forgotten how to dream.. As children we have a still have that dream inside and with your beautiful attention that dream will not be forgotten – and then when adulthood comes along they will be living it!
tamuriaMarch 16, 2017 at 6:16 pm
Teresa, thank you so much. That is my dream, to keep the creativity and dreams alive in kids.
Susan Mary MaloneMarch 17, 2017 at 2:52 am
Yes, Tamuria, I find the opening fact quite horrifying! But I absolutely love your solutions. What a gift your giving your goddesses! And I just love: “Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous.” Ah! Bill Moyers is one of my heroes 🙂
tamuriaMarch 18, 2017 at 5:31 am
I have no doubt that sometime in the future, policymakers will realise the importance of encouraging creativity and imagination in kids and design an education program that embraces this, Susan. I could be a few generations away though so we need to do what we can for children now.
RobinMarch 17, 2017 at 10:57 am
What a thoughtful post! I agree that many factors are reducing the creativity of our kids, and that is dreadful. As my left-handed, right-brained son was growing up, he loved to color outside the lines. Sadly, he was penalized in class. I worked hard to let him express his creative side, but still had to deal with others.
tamuriaMarch 18, 2017 at 5:33 am
We do have an urge to make kids conform, don’t we Robin? I love that you did what you could to help your son express his creativity.
CandessMarch 18, 2017 at 3:07 am
What a beautiful blog. Just reading it makes me felt great! I love taking my granddaughter out in nature to learn. Thanks for all you contribute to our children!
tamuriaMarch 18, 2017 at 5:42 am
Such a lovely compliment, Candess, thank you. Nature really is the best teacher and I can’t imagine anyone more creative than Mother Nature.
Joan M HarringtonMarch 19, 2017 at 7:24 am
The more creative your children are the better they will be as adults. I 100% agree with you Tamuria that when children are young, it is best to always utilize their creativity and allow them to just be free to explore and create so they can use it to their advantage when they are older 🙂 This is a great post for those with young children to learn how to teach their children now how to be creative in anything they are doing.
Thanks for sharing!
tamuriaMarch 20, 2017 at 7:40 am
If we foster creativity and imagination in children while they are young, Joan, we equip them with so many skills for happiness and productivity when they are older.
Tandy ElisalaMarch 21, 2017 at 8:47 am
Tamuria, I love this article so so much. I can’t even tell you how much I adore all of this. I am a big believer that the more we encourage creativity in children, the more skills, talents and abilities (and critical thinking) we give them. Kids who are encouraged to use their imagination and creative genius are happier, stronger, healthier, and smarter (IMHO). Great post.
tamuriaMarch 22, 2017 at 7:31 am
Thank you, Tandy. There is so much emphasis on academic achievement these days, the creative side often gets overlooked. More people need to realise the important part creativity and imagination plays in learning and in overall mental health.
Katarina AnderssonMarch 21, 2017 at 1:05 pm
Creativity is indeed important…also to read a lot…to always stay curious…
tamuriaMarch 22, 2017 at 7:33 am
So true, Katarina.Reading is vital and the great thing about creativity is that it encourages curiosity – a must for new discoveries and innovations.
Alene GeedMarch 22, 2017 at 1:18 am
I love your ideas and of course completely agree with the premise that imagination time will create amazing children and ensure that our future generations will blossom. Play time, dress up time and especially crafts all are great ways to achieve this
tamuriaMarch 22, 2017 at 7:39 am
Alene, thank you. We have, at the moment, a system where schools are encouraged to compare and compete on an academic level. If that comparison was for which schools have the happiest students I’m certain creativity and imaginative play would be huge parts of the curriculum.
Lorii AbelaMarch 22, 2017 at 9:29 am
I am glad you are promoting creativity. I was at the day care owned by my aunt in Manila and I learned that grade 1 students were already learning about the meaning of the design of the flag, multiplication and different kinds of plants. I hope there is enough time for exploring more rather than this enormous memorization.
tamuriaMarch 22, 2017 at 3:39 pm
There is an enormous pressure on schools to compete academically, which makes it difficult to find the time for creativity and imaginative play, Lorii. In Australia these days, children are expected to be able to write their name and know the alphabet before they even get into kindergarten. It used to be we learned that stuff during our first year of school, not before.That is why we should all make it our business to encourage creativity in kids.
Joyce HansenMarch 22, 2017 at 1:16 pm
We have become a tech world so focused on the binary code, and we expect our children to grow up to be tech wizards. One of the components of early education is to engage children in imaginary play. So many parents instead give their children free access to smartphones and tablets thinking they are stimulating their minds when in fact there’s nothing to stimulate their imaginations. Looks like we need to start preparing teaching imagination skills to adults who want to succeed in life.
tamuriaMarch 22, 2017 at 3:41 pm
I agree, Joyce. The wonders of the tech world have overtaken the joys of creating and using our imaginations. It will be such a loss, to kids and the world in general, if these become a forgotten art.
weblyMarch 22, 2017 at 1:41 pm
I totally agree with creativity nourishing your kid’s mind. I make it mandatory for my son to find a way to have fun outside without electronics. The interesting part is that once he starts having fun, he forgets about electronics. As parents we should guide our children always to what’s best for them. It is easier than we think.
tamuriaMarch 22, 2017 at 3:44 pm
It’s wonderful that you monitor your son’s screen time, Webly, and encourage him to play outside and enjoy nature. I think it can be hard for parents who are overworked to find the time to encourage creativity and imaginative play in kids.
Jennifer QuisenberryMarch 22, 2017 at 2:01 pm
When I was a child, I was in my school’s gifted and talented program. Each week, three of us got to have our own class for a few hours where all it felt like we did was indulge our imaginations. I think that was some seriously creative play. I often wonder if indulging my creative side like that as a child led me to such creative work as an adult? I’m sure there’s definitely a relationship there.
tamuriaMarch 22, 2017 at 3:47 pm
I’m sure you are right, Jennifer. What a wonderful experience to have had. So sad it was only on offer to those in the gifted and talented program. I believe, all children, regardless of intelligence, are full of creativity and imagination, until we adults knock it out of them. It could be the less gifted kids would find their amazing hidden talents if they were allowed more time for creative play.
Apolline AdijuMarch 23, 2017 at 3:43 am
Tamura, this is an excellent experience for the kids. My daughter and her friends have such fun activities at their school too, and it reminds me of my childhood experiences too. I love it when kids are given a chance to bring out their creativity.
tamuriaMarch 23, 2017 at 7:54 am
It’s so important to give kids the opportunities and encouragement to let their creativity and imagination shine, Apolline. It can make all the difference to how they cope and how motivated they are as adults.
Jane GramlichMarch 23, 2017 at 5:36 am
Some great resources here, thanks so much.
For the past seven summers, my husband and I have been blessed with having our granddaughter come for a two month stay. She lives a distance from us, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to experience the day-today with her as well as some special trips and celebrations.
One of her greatest enjoyments is the down time however. We find plenty of activities, but we purposely don’t schedule a formal program that she’d need to attend every day. This gives her a sense of freedom and self-direction. Unscheduled time is a great boon to creativity.
tamuriaMarch 23, 2017 at 7:59 am
Your granddaughter will have such lovely memories of her summers, Jane, and what special bonding opportunities you have with a two-month stay. I couldn’t agree more that unscheduled time is a great boon to creativity. It’s so easy to over plan the lives of children and not let them have the opportunity to just be. I cherish those unplanned, spontaneous moments with the Goddesses.