Welcome to my final blog in this series on creativity.
So far we have established the critical skill our children need in abundance for their future is creativity. We have also found that they are far more creative when they are younger, and over time, this reduces significantly. So how do we ensure that we encourage their natural creativity rather than eliminate it, and in addition, how to help them to develop the 'useful' part of their creative ideas?
I believe the answer lies between the covers of a good book. As Holden (2004) observes, reading is a 'creative activity' and Moore et al. 1999 states 'they will need literacy to feed their imaginations'. So if it was as easy as that, then just give every child a book and problem solved!
I believe that there is more to it - I do believe reading is they key but this is only the first step. Helping children to develop a love of reading; where they pick up a book and read for pleasure rather than because they have been told to, is certainly a step in the right direction. Gambrell (1996) found that when pupils were asked which book they had enjoyed most, 80% of them said it was the one they had selected themselves. So allowing children the freedom to choose their books is important, along with making reading fun, engaging and enjoyable. We also need to suspend judgement - picture books should be encouraged at any age as these used in the right way can, can stimulate creativity and imagination (see my previous blogs for more ideas on how to do this).
Using books in a wider way, as a catalyst for their imagination and creative ideas, can help encourage creativity. There are so many ways you can do this, for example; your child can become their favourite character from a book for an hour, you could read the first couple of chapters of a book together and then encourage them to write, draw or act out what they think may happen next, they could write their own story using their favourite characters from the book. The list is endless - just use your own imagination and think about what you would have loved to do as a child. There are no right or wrong answers – it’s just about helping them to flex their creative muscle and in the same way as using any muscle regularly, it will become stronger.
On the other hand, one of the quickest ways to stop a child being creative is by laughing at their ideas. In their time, people laughed at Einstein and the Wright Brothers - no one is laughing now! Instead, let’s consciously encourage our children's creativity without judgement, encourage them to read and have fun with books.
In terms of the development of the ‘useful’ part of their ideas, well this will come naturally over time as they learn how to test ideas and put structure around their thinking. But let’s not be too hasty; let’s not pre-judge, as we need to be mindful not to squash their creativity which is so critical for their future success. You never know, your child could be the next Einstein or could even discover the cure for cancer – let’s encourage their ideas, as we need their creativity more than ever before. You never know, we may even rediscover our own creativity in the process.