Some people believe that it is more important for children to learn how to follow directions, while others believe that it is more important for children to be creative and think for themselves. We were heavily on the side of creativity in our homeschool life, maybe because I’m not a very good rule-follower myself. Whatever your preference, the way that someone chooses to teach their children at home reflects their own beliefs about which skills are more important for children to learn.
Here are 7 Ways to Encourage Creativity in our Kids:
1 – Let them Fail
It is beneficial for our children to make mistakes as it allows them to grow in skills such as problem solving, develop self-confidence, and take responsibility for their actions. Mistakes also show our kids that failure only happens when we give up. This reduces the fear of failure and makes them more willing to take risks.
2 – Let them Retry
When our kids make mistakes, it is better to let them try to come up with better solutions on their own, rather than telling them how they should have done it. A wise person once said, “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.”
3 – Limited Rules
Don’t constrain your kids by forcing them to stick to too many parameters for all of their school subjects. Encourage them to think outside of the box. Once they get used to being creative, they will probably come up with all sorts of ideas you’ve never even dreamed of.
4 – Teach them to Brainstorm
Children should brainstorm both by themselves and with others to develop their skills. Try to get your kids in the habit of brainstorming at the beginning of many of their lessons. They may come up with a good idea initially, but if they take time to think of other possibilities, they may be able to come up with an even better one.
5 – Practice Divergent Thinking
Divergent thinking is a type of thinking where someone comes up with ideas that are beyond the normal expectations. This type of thinking can be encouraged by allowing children to respectfully come up with their own ideas, rather than enforcing that they always do exactly as they are told. For example, if a parent gives their child a plan for the day, and the child has a different idea of how to approach it, the parent should be willing to listen. And if the child’s plan makes more sense, the parent should be willing to change their plans to match the child’s.
6 – Time for Exploration
Giving our kids time to be bored can help them be more creative. If we provide them with opportunities to do things they enjoy that don’t involve screens, they’ll eventually come up with more interesting things to do with their time.
7 – Problem Solving
Provide your children with a problem that has more than one correct solution and let them determine what the answers are. Encourage them to look for different ways to solve the problem. When working on subjects that usually have one right answer, such as math, let them use the methods that work best for them rather than insisting that they use the method you prefer or the method that is recommended in the textbook. Be sure to let them do more open-ended activities that don’t have a set answer.
Open-Ended Activities Which Encourage Creativity
If you’re just starting to encourage creativity in your children, it may be difficult to think of activities for them to do. Your children may also have trouble coming up with ideas. If you just set a timer and tell them to be creative for an hour, you may not have much success. Sometimes our children need help getting started in order for them to be innovative.
As a mom, it isn’t always easy to come up with homeschooling ideas that kids would be interested in. They are usually happy to tell me what they don’t like, but what the like is harder to define. When my kids had regular, unstructured time to explore the world, some really amazing things came out. Stop action films, elaborate currency systems to trade with friends, a bouquet of paper flowers that still sits on my night-stand – these are things I wouldn’t have come up with for them.
Creativity and Homeschooling
Being creative is something that is beneficial for everyone to try and do, but it takes on a different meaning for homeschoolers. Some families that homeschool do so because they want to be able to better help their children explore and follow their creative interests. In general, many parents that homeschool want to be able teach their kids how to think independently, which often requires creative thinking.
The ever-present element of homeschooling is finding creative solutions. This is because homeschooling is personalized and flexible, meaning thatInspiring creativity on a daily basis is important for homeschoolers.
If you’re not homeschooling but are still looking for ways to be creative, don’t worry, these strategies can still be applied to you. Just adapt them into practical applications that work for you!
Here are three ways to help yourself or your child be more creative each day.
1. Practice Mindfulness
People, kids included, come up with their best ideas when they are alone and can focus on their thoughts.
Our lives can be so noisy and full of multitasking and a constant stream of background sounds and pressing to-do lists. Despite feeling tempted to turn on the tv for background noise or juggle numerous tasks at once, creativity blooms when we are deliberately mindful of the task at hand. This is likely why the art of mindfulness is increasing in popularity.
What is mindfulness, anyway?
Mindfulness means being aware of what you’re doing and thinking in the present moment. It’s about being thoughtful and present in your own mind.
Mindfulness has been linked to helping with anxiety, depression and creativity. It makes sense that being in touch with your emotions and thoughts would spark creativity. Being creative is all about unique perspectives – which we can’t gain without checking into our own thoughts and feelings every once in a while!
How to Help Your Kids Practice Mindfulness
Although mindfulness may seem like an attribute that is more suited for adults, it is something that can be practiced by people of all ages. For some, the word may bring to mind the image of people in a quiet yoga studio, but it is not limited to that.
However, there are definitely some really easy – and yes – kid-friendly ways, you can increase mindfulness and spark creativity in your home (or your homeschool) on a daily basis! Two of the simplest ways to cultivate mindfulness for kids are to:
- embrace boredom
- encourage journaling.
Let Them Be “Bored”
The younger generations are used to a constant stimulation of noise and activity and can be resistant to quieter moments.
I usually start my day with a long walk around my neighborhood, listening to a book or a podcast. The downside I’ve noticed is that I have a hard time settling down to work when I get home. I would rather just keep listening to someone else talk, rather than have to use my brain.
On days when I spend my walking time thinking and planning, getting back to work is actually exciting. I don’t have any evidence that kids’ brains work the same, but I think we’ve all experienced a cranky child who has been watching a bunch of tv. Creativity isn’t often born of listening to another person’s ideas. We need space to think our own.
2. Pay Attention: Observe, Describe and Ask
When it comes to creativity, it is important to be aware of your own thoughts. However, you will be able to make better creative decisions if you are also informed about the great works, ideas, and achievements of others. Paying attention to these things will help you be better informed.
How to Practice the Art of Paying Attention
External Focus External focus is all about learning to stop and listen to the things outside of yourself. This more analytical strategy can spark creativity.
This could mean studying a great work in the medium in which you are honing your skills. For example, a painter would study the works of great painters throughout the ages, and a writer would study techniques used in classic novels.
You can use this strategy to pursue creative endeavors, or to just encourage creative thinking.
With your kids (or in your own daily life), you can break the practice of “paying attention” down into three parts:
- Observe— look and listen to what’s going on around you. Take in the information. Note the details. You can do this any context–from socially relevant conversations to great works of art or literature.
- Describe–Talk or write about what you see. Be detailed as you do so, and note a few things, in particular, such as: What stood out to me about this? What did I like? What didn’t I like?
- Question— Now that you’ve observed and taken time to describe, stop to think about what stands out to you and ask–why? In any creative study (and in creative thinking) it’s important to understand not just what you think, but why you think it. Once you know that, then you can begin to create your own creative works or formulate your own, unique ideas!
Even Picasso Learned the Rules Before He Broke Them
Pablo Picasso, a famous Spanish artist, is most well-known for his abstract, Cubist paintings. Cubism is an art style that Picasso created which focuses on conveying geometric forms. The interesting thing is, he learned the rules of traditional painting before he started breaking them.
Although he is most well-known for his Cubist paintings, Picasso was also incredibly skilled in realism.
He learned how to paint from his father, who was a skilled painter, and then went to a fine arts academy. He was very talented and painted a realistic oil portrait of his Aunt Pepa when he was 14.
3. Get in the Habit of Creating
This third strategy for sparking creativity is the simplest, but can also be the most difficult to follow through on! The strategy is to take a break from your work. Stepping away from your project will help you clear your head and come back to your work with a fresh perspective. It can be difficult to take a break when you’re feeling stuck, but it’s important to give yourself time to recharge.
When you are aware of your own individual voice and pay attention to the ways others do things, it creates the ideal conditions for creativity to prosper.
There is only one thing left to do and that is to make a habit of creating something every day.
Think about ways that you can incorporate creativity into your daily routine. It doesn’t have to be a big project, it could be something as small as taking time each day to doodle or write in a journal. Small creative exercises like these can help increase your overall creativity.
It can be difficult to create something when you aren’t feeling motivated.
Creative blocks are very intimidating and can seem impossible to overcome. The only way to overcome the intimidation is to just do it.
Practice makes possible.
Look for ways to overcome the intimidation of creating. These techniques have helped make creativity a part of daily life.
- Follow instructions or participate in a challenge. You don’t have to come up with inspiration all by yourself in order to be creative everyday! There are a lot of great resources that can guide you as you make a habit of creating!
- Got a poet or aspiring novelist in the house? Consider encouraging them to participate in a daily writing challenge like the month-long novel writing challenge, National Write Your Novel Month. You can totally work something like this into your homeschool for the month as part of language arts!
- Set small goals. One thing that makes any creative endeavor less overwhelming is to break seemingly large tasks into small, achievable daily goals. This is true for adults, but even more so for kids who tend to get overwhelmed. If you are trying to get your homeschooler into the habit of creating, remember that small, daily goals keep things fun and motivational, too! Setting a 15-minute timer or challenging your student to write a daily haiku or journal entry are examples of ways you can keep the assignment small and attainable.
- Allow messiness. The creative process is all about discovery. Just as we take inspiration from great ideas that have come before us, we are always taking inspiration from our own creative progress, too! There will (and should) be things about our own creations that we don’t really like—this is what guides us in the progression of creating the next thing and making it even better! In your homeschool, and in your own life, try to give yourself permission to be a little bit messy as you create. This will not only give you things to learn from, but it will also make the habit of creating consistently way less intimidating!