The Importance Of Creativity In Children And How To Encourage It

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Creativity Is Core To The Human Experience

How do you help children be creative in a way that totally matches their potential in a world of conflicting extremes? And the question is more prescient than ever in the wake of COVID-19. Even though most of the United States has reopened, there are many places that never had school from March of 2020 to June of 2021. Expectations are a return to normal in 2022.

kid playing with parents

What a mixed blessing! Now parents won’t have to deal with children they aren’t used to being around continuously, but those children must return to being cogs in the machine of public education. They’ll end up substituting creativity for memorization, or whatever it takes to please a teacher into rendering a positive grade. Hardly creativity fodder!

So what’s the solution? Well, in terms of creativity, there are a lot of things that can be done to stimulate natural desires and skills in children; but getting to the heart of the matter will require a little strategic effort. Following we’ll briefly explore what’s behind creativity so that you can help your children be creative in as natural a way as possible.

It’s worth noting creativity is of paramount importance. Rooted in imagination, creativity develops children into pillars of society that maintain the world for subsequent generations. Imagination is all important; more even than knowledge—Einstein pointed that out. So we’ll focus on creativity’s roots, and how to stimulate imagination toward those creative outcomes.

Creativity’s Roots

Left on their own, people will be creative—though not as creative as they could be. The sort of creativity defining a person, how it is expressed in their creation, and other aspects of this process may differ. For example, where one man is creative in terms of musical creations or painting, another may be creative in the design of mechanized components.

However, everyone—everyone—has some sort of creative core. Everyone can create, and there’s something in them driving them to this act. However, modernity isn’t naturally conducive to creativity. Consider how the arc of life develops a person from infancy to adulthood.

In the world of yesteryear, parents were the only education a child would ever know, so the parents would teach what they had learned, and by a child’s early years, they knew enough to begin foraging in the storehouses of creative expression, eventually finding their own niche. But not everyone had the same opportunities, so well-meaning people tried to upgrade things.

Unfortunately, the reality of infrastructure around fully educating the citizens of a country actually ends up working against many of today’s children. How can a kindergarten teacher with twenty children (and getting paid a wage that barely keeps her head above water) possibly give each child the attention they need?

Creativity Encouragement Needs To Be Rooted In The Home

Not only must the teacher contend with multiple children vying for his or her attention throughout the course of the day, they have curriculum metrics to hit—even in kindergarten—which determine their burgeoning careers. Beyond the politics of education, there are parents to deal with, and legal considerations restricting full expression of imaginative creativity.

Whereas, by contrast, when two parents must care for a child all day, and this is part of society, that child gets more adult attention and experience—even if it means they must begin the business of learning a trade or something of the kind at a very young age.

So on the one end childhood is short as the business of life develops quickly. On the other, it’s extended indefinitely, but stifled by the realities of infrastructure. Where’s the balance? Modern society does provide a unique opportunity where the best of both worlds may be experienced. The key is for parents to identify the preferences and skills of a child, then foster them.

Doing this properly might be helped if you do some creativity prompts with your child. Teachers who have the time and inclination to give children more attention may also find such prompts help their young ones become more imaginative. When you know what interests a child, you can then help foster that sapling interest into an evergreen of creativity.

Fostering Specific Interests

Because you have work, and in school individual attention isn’t as tangible as it would ideally be, you’ll need to set a sort of “cold fusion” machine in motion—something that “energizes” itself. As an example, if you have a child that you think might be an architect, start them with legos and graduate them into models, then furniture design, drafting, and construction.

The process could take years. The idea, though, is to work with the child, rather than against them. Certainly, the child may take after you as a parent. Certainly, teachers who are reading this, children may find themselves naturally passionate about school activities. This won’t always be the case, though, and we should know that round pegs don’t go into square holes.

There’s another quote attributed to Einstein that a fish judged like a monkey on tree climbing ability will always feel inadequate. Some of your children are climbers, some are swimmers, some are neither. So you’ve got to find the interests that naturally propel your children, and lean into those. That’s why creativity prompts and the like are so important.

Most young children, and even young adults, have trouble opening up about things that drive them. For one thing, a lot of people never learn what defines them—part of that has to do with cookie-cutter educational paradigms built around producing bureaucratic cogs in society’s machine, rather than helping an individual to flourish. Part of it is the human condition.

Drawing Out Creativity: Think “Tom Sawyer”

One must be very wise to draw the waters of creativity from the subconscious mind into fruition. Often what this involves is learning to observe a person in an exterior way which is different than how they see themselves. Tell someone they can’t do something, and they’ll try with all their might to. Tell them they can, and they won’t—that’s human nature.

To foster imagination most completely, an oblique approach is almost necessary. Think Tom Sawyer and his white-washing of that fence in Twain’s classic novel. He didn’t want to paint the fence, so he pretended it was fun, and got the kids in the neighborhood to pay him so they could do his chore. Well, you need to be like Tom Sawyer in drawing creativity out of children.

Helping Creativity Bloom

Once you understand where they’ve got aptitude or interests, be coy in drawing children into those interests, then continue to foster them as you do. Are they good on the piano? They should be encouraged and get lessons; but a piano teacher might squash the fire of creativity incidentally. Instead, challenge them to learn songs by ear, or write their own song.

When they’ve learned how to do this enough that they can actually put something together, and are actually passionate about it, then you want to explore educational options. Make the creative act fun before you make it a chore. If you go the other way, the child will dislike the effort, and might even form a mental block.

So to recap: creativity is all important. Imagination is the root of creativity; Einstein thinks it’s better than knowledge. Fostering creativity requires identifying core creative energies then fostering them—often obliquely—until they become a passion. From there, enable that passion to flourish.

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