Updated: Aug 29
FOSTERING CHILDREN’S CREATIVITY: Q&A
DR. JOANNE FOSTER – www.joannefoster.ca
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
~ Maya Angelou
Here are some straightforward questions and answers that cover some of the basics of what parents need and want to know about nurturing children’s creativity—whether in the arts (such as music, drawing, dance, or crafts), while playing (inside or outdoors), or during various day-to-day experiences. There are LOTS of suggestions here. (Creativity is a HUGE topic.) So, zero in on those points that resonate for you now, and then revisit this article over the years to refresh your family’s creative vibe.
1. WHY IS CREATIVITY IMPORTANT FOR CHILDREN? There are many reasons, but here are three that are especially noteworthy. A) Creativity enables children to discover new perspectives and paths for learning. B) It helps kids find innovative ways to overcome difficulties and solve problems. C) Creativity ignites fun, excitement, and imagination.
2. HOW DOES CREATIVITY DEVELOP? Creativity happens step by step over time. It involves tackling challenges—including being determined and open-minded and by putting forth effort. Parents can foster children’s creativity by providing them with opportunities to work with varied materials and under different conditions.
3. WHAT FUELS CREATIVITY? For children and adults alike, creativity is built on the following actions and attitudes: engagement in different types of learning and exploration; targeted involvement in activities that match current ability levels on a topic-by-topic basis; progress in tackling higher-level problems; and persistence over time.
Other key creativity-related factors are preparation—having different materials ready; reflection—thinking about previous and next steps; resilience—not giving up; and pursuing interests—doing what you like to do. (See Being Smart about Gifted Learning, 2021, Chapter 2.) And, on the flip side, what can thwart children’s creativity? Impediments include doubt, scrutiny, rigidity, unfair expectations, fatigue, confusion, lack of provisions, and impatience. (Chances are you already know what to avoid. You’ve got this!)
4. WHAT’S THE CONNECTION BETWEEN CURIOSITY AND CREATIVITY? Curiosity can propel children’s desire to reflect, collaborate, marvel, and achieve. With effort, they can turn their curiosity into something exciting. Inquiry motivates learning, leads to meaningful answers, and furthers intelligence. Curiosity is a springboard for the enjoyment of new pursuits. It’s a mighty beginning—an introduction to countless open-ended possibilities. (See Curiosity and Why It Matters in the May 2021 issue of First Time Parent Magazine.)
5. WHAT ARE THE BEST ENVIRONMENTS FOR ENCOURAGING CREATIVITY? The following ten suggestions are broad-based, therefore think about them in relation to your own home dynamic.
Emphasize healthy living, including proper nutrition, ample rest, and exercise.
Invite challenges—with realistic goals.
Welcome diversity in areas of exploration—time spent enjoying nature; reading; participating in on-land and water-based sports; game-playing; developing motor skills, and appreciating multisensory activities.
Reframe errors and obstacles as opportunities.
Enable independent possibilities as well as collaborative ones.
Be flexible about how things unfold because feelings, situations, and outcomes are always in flux.
Make time to listen, reflect, focus, and refocus.
Encourage children’s input and questions.
Reinforce boundary-stretching (courage) and reasonable risk-taking.
6. HOW ELSE CAN PARENTS SUPPORT CREATIVITY WITHIN THE FAMILY? It’s important to offer children a choice. Seek and find windows of opportunity, such as music, drama, structure-building, dance, and painting. Then demonstrate the joy of fulfillment through your own engagement in different kinds of creative expression. Also, model patience and good use of time—but don’t forget to nurture spontaneity and to help your child seize “aha!” moments.
Praise children’s efforts, reinforce their enthusiasms, and give strategy-oriented feedback. Be available to listen, observe, communicate, guide, collaborate, share, inspire, and offer support. Remember that each child has areas of strength and weakness, which can develop at different rates and times. Wise parents also emphasize the strength of character and values—for example, kindness, patience, gratitude—as applied to learning, creativity, sociability, and other aspects of family life.
And, check out the many articles in my column at The Creativity Post online, including the recent resource-laden Parenting for Creativity, wherein I write the following: “Show why creativity matters. You are your child’s best teacher of the benefits of living creatively. Stay fresh, eager to keep on learning, enthusiastic about new ideas, and grateful for knowledge. Reflect, focus, be resourceful, and discover your ingenuity! Then demonstrate that.”
In a nutshell, nurture your children’s imaginative play, purpose, effort, skill-building, relationships, and pride. Be available to help them extend their learning and to take advantage of opportunities to experience their world as fully as possible—and thereby make it even more creativity-filled and wondrous!
About the Author Dr. Joanne Foster is a gifted education specialist and the award-winning author of several books, including the 3 rd edition of Being Smart — Being Smart about Gifted Learning: Empowering Parents and Kids Through Challenge and Change (co-authored with Dona Matthews, published by Gifted Unlimited LLC., 2021. www.giftedunlimitedllc.com). For additional resources on creativity, learning, productivity, children’s well-being, and more, go to www.joannefoster.ca