You want your kids to be creative, right?
If you don’t, you should. There is a ton of evidence proving the importance of creativity for wellbeing – of children and adults.
The future looks particularly bright for creative thinkers, according to almost all the forecasters. The training for that begins with the creative play that promotes curiosity and problem-solving.
So you’ve supplied the kids with some paper and pencils and maybe even access to a creative YouTube tutorial. Good enough, right?
Well, that may be enough to keep them happily occupied for a while, but the creative process is a bit more complicated.
The kind of creative play that promotes curiosity and problem-solving skills requires an array of materials, room for a mess, and a particular mindset by the adult involved.
These are just some of the hurdles parents face when they embark on the creative journey with their kids.
WHY WE NEED CREATIVITY SCHOOLS FOR KIDS
Why creativity schools for kids? Don’t children spend enough time in school?
Yes, they do. However, schools place minimal importance on creative pursuits when compared to the push for academic excellence.
This is not a complaint – just an observation. Even during creative projects, schools encourage students to adhere to a structure with many rules. This is necessary when you are dealing with large groups of children.
Creativity schools for kids should be a space with minimal instructions and rules (aside from safety rules, of course). They should be a place that inspires artistic curiosity, experimentation and invention.
There should be space for a mess and a varied assortment of materials on offer to enhance creative thinking.
CAN OUR HOMES BECOME CREATIVITY SCHOOLS FOR KIDS?
Absolutely and it’s why I often offer instructions for various arts and crafts projects for parents and kids to do at home.
However, there are a few obstacles for parents to overcome if they want to create the best atmosphere for creativity.
“I could never do what you do. I’d want to take over”.
This was what a friend told me recently when I was describing what goes on at my art and crafts school Wacky Workshops.
It’s one of the biggest hurdles for parents trying to promote creative thinking in their children. They are often too focused on the outcome which makes them steer the project in a certain direction.
Remember when I mentioned a particular mindset is required to oversee this kind of creative training?
It’s about recognising that the end product is of little importance. What matters is the activity that leads you there. It’s in the doing, the experimenting, the mistakes and mind changes that the creative thought starts to grow.
This requires encouragement without direction or too many suggestions. It requires having no expectations.
In every other activity, parents are urged to teach their kids the ‘right’ way to do things – brush their teeth, wash their hands, eat at the table, use their manners.
When it comes to creativity, parents have to shut down their ‘right’ way of teaching and let the kids discover for themselves what works and what doesn’t. And their opinion of what works may differ greatly from the parent’s.
When parents are unable to shift that mindset they risk discouraging the child, which is something that is hard to undo.
OBSTACLES TO CREATIVE SCHOOLS IN HOMES
The unique relationship between parent and child can be its own stumbling block when it comes to creative pursuits.
Many parents have expressed happy surprise at what their child can achieve during creative workshops outside of the home. Children are often more willing to take instruction from people other than their parents. Without the urge to please a parent, they are more apt to try new things.
Even the home atmosphere can be a hurdle to overcome. It comes with a bunch of distractions because it has so many purposes other than being a creative school.
One of the biggest of those distractions is access to the internet and all that it has to offer. Most of my students tell me they view YouTube channels for creative tutorials.
I applaud this. It’s a fantastic tool but as it’s not interactive it doesn’t promote creative thinking. It simply shows how to do something instead of asking the viewer how they could do it differently. In essence, it spoon feeds them information instead of encouraging them to think for themselves.
Other issues for parents wanting to promote creativity in their child include lack of time, lack of materials, lack of confidence, and lack of ideas. And of course, the inevitable mess and consequent clean-up. I recently taught a small group of children who were super excited to play with paint during a workshop. They said they rarely get the chance to paint as their parents hated the mess and opportunities at school had diminished after the first few years.
TOP TIPS FOR TURNING YOUR HOMES A CREATIVITY SCHOOLS FOR KIDS
FORGET ABOUT THE OUTCOME
The first tip has to be to focus on the doing, not the outcome.
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. Thomas A. Edison
Children need the space to discover for themselves what works. This is how they become problem solvers and creative thinkers.
That means directions and suggestions need to be kept to a minimum.
While praise and encouragement are vital, there is no need to go overboard. It’s better to explain to the child that when it comes to art, there is no right or wrong as it all comes down to people’s opinion. And that varies – a lot.
Technology does not make creative thinkers.
While YouTube may be the best place to learn how to draw that Tasselled Wobbegong, it will not help you think outside the box. You get a set of instructions and the whole point is, we’re trying to give the kids a break from that.
I’m not suggesting kids shouldn’t be proactive and make the most of what the internet has to offer. It shouldn’t be their only means of getting help with their creative endeavours.
Creating the right space is vital.
You need room to move where mess is not only accepted, but expected. You need space to store supplies and to place creations that may need dry time for glue, paint, and clay – whatever. If you have a dedicated space for this it will help cut down on the other distractions that home has to offer.
When it comes to materials, it doesn’t have to break the bank.
Start a collection of recyclables and nature finds. It’s amazing how much fun can be had with a plastic bottle, or a bunch of sticks.
There seems to be more demands on parents’ time than ever before so I appreciate how difficult it is to set aside time for creative pursuits. If you don’t have the time and you don’t want to deal with the mess, book them into creative lessons. Find an art school where the emphasis is on fun and experimentation rather technique or look for a creativity school in your area.
If you lack confidence in your own creative abilities, here’s my number 1 tip – Never Let On. If your children see your struggle with confidence they will pick up on it and embrace it as their own. Truth be told, kids almost always see the adult’s creation (no matter how ‘good’ it is) as better than theirs. Quite often it is. But the time to really rejoice is when that child declares they think their creation is even better than yours. That’s what you are waiting to hear because it shows the child has confidence in their creative pursuits. Having said all that, I try to discourage comparisons, falling back on my ‘there is no right or wrong in art’ statement. In fact, I truly believe there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ art.
It’s often best if you can avoid making your own drawings and creations with the kids as some may feel discouraged when they see their version looks nothing like yours. As an arts and crafts teacher, I will often show students a simple drawing technique to get them started on their own ideas. After that, I like to give them the chance to teach me. I follow their directions – often with hilarious results that look nothing like something you’d expect an art teacher to create. It levels the playing field and gives the students confidence and a sense of empowerment.
When it comes to lack of ideas.
Sorry, there is no excuse these days. Check out my Pinterest page which is brimming with fantastic projects. Some are mine, many are from other wonderful artists and crafters. Or go to the Wacky Crafts Projects link in the menu on this page to see dozens of fun and wacky projects to get you started. The kids won’t be creative thinkers overnight. They will need your help and guidance to get the ideas to flow.
As for the mess?
I can’t help you there unless you live in the Lower Blue Mountains area of NSW, Australia, and choose to book your child into my Wacky Workshops private classes. All materials are supplied and all mess cleaned by me. 🙂
If you’d like to promote creative thinking in your children and live anywhere in NSW, Australia, a great place to start is The Wacky Challenge. There is a new challenge each month and all NSW children aged 5 – 12 can play for free. You’ll find all the details for this fun creative game on The Wacky Workshops Page.
In the meantime, happy crafting and have a gleeful week, Tamuria.