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How to Nurture Creativity

How to Nurture Creativity in our Children

Creativity is important for children and adults alike. No matter what stage of life, creative people will often be problem-solvers, curious, industrious, and intrinsically motivated.

Instead of seeing a problem (like a fallen log blocking the bike path), they see an opportunity for a story to unfold (like, for example, a mobile home for tiny elves en route slowly on the back of hundreds of ants.) What fun to be guided by an imagination that knows no limit!

And summer is a great time to take the focus off of academics, according to a Tufts Department of Child Study and Human Development professor, and leave kids free to play and develop on their own. As parents, there are several ways we can encourage and inspire our children to grow in creativity:

  1. Allow for unstructured time. If your children aren’t used to a day with no plans, let them get bored. Keep the screens, TVs, computers, and video games off. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all. If your children are a little too young for so much unstructured time, check out these tips by Parents on age-appropriate ways to nurture creativity.
  2. Provide raw materials. Once your children understand safe practices in the kitchen or woodshop, let them loose. Buy ingredients and see what they concoct. Keep around scrap wood, nails, paint, and other materials, and see what they build. There are hours of potential entertainment in a pile of old magazines, construction paper, and a glue stick, or an old landline phone, sticky notes, and bifocals. The possibilities are endless.
  3. Explore as a family. Get creative together. Discover a new hiking trail, do something you’ve never done before like paintball or a painting class, or try a new cuisine. Learning about other cultures or even landmarks and geography in your own neighborhood expand and give depth to our worldview, which fuels our imaginations. Find the balance between letting your kids get bored and getting them out of their comfort zones to show them something new, between spending time unentertained by you and sharing experiences together as a family.
  4. Expect some messes. Creativity is not neat and clean. There will be failed attempts, ideas gone wrong, and frustration. According to the Greater Good Magazine from UC Berkeley, encouraging creativity in your kids also means encouraging “divergent thought,” which might look like them disagreeing with you and finding different solutions to a problem – or recognizing a different problem entirely.
  5. Forget about instructions. Throw out your expectations and hold your lists loosely (even this one). Let your children discover how they naturally tend toward creating and imagining the world around them. This process should be fun and liberating and more than a little messy (we understand that Type A parents may be tossing out this list for different reasons altogether!) Allow yourself to also be changed by the process as your children expand their own creativity; it makes us all better.



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