by Meghan Fitzgerald
It’s hard to overstate the importance of creativity. Creativity is the ability to both imagine original ideas or solutions to problems and actually do what needs to be done to make them happen. Creative thinking is a critical skill; not only for artists or musicians, but also for kids as a way of thinking about—and being in—the world.
It is through being creative that a person is able to get their senses, sensibility and spirit working together. Simply put, our kids need creativity to live a full life. (Find some easy ways to set up creative activities for kids here).
Creativity is also the means by which humans of all ages make an impact on the world and other people around them. The world our children will inherit is complex, and their generation will need to imagine, innovate and implement solutions to big and very complicated problems.
Watch our video: 3 Easy Ways to Sustain Your Child's Creative Genius
According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity are the three most important skills a child will need to thrive. Today's political and business leaders worldwide already point to creativity as the most important leadership quality for the future.
Education expert Sir Ken Robinson put it best: "Creativity is as important now in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.”
They're born with it, but it's hard to stay creative. Children begin their lives with the habits that creative adults retain and build throughout their lifetimes. Children are driven by curiosity, asking questions at every turn and experimenting and learning through play. They don't let the conventional or “right” way to use an object limit its possible uses. Sure, a bowl is a bowl, but it’s also a hat, an instrument, just the right stepping stool for reaching the cookie jar and more. Children are naturally driven to take things apart and transform them into other things—which are core actions in the creative process.
Unfortunately, this mindset is often diminished or even lost when young children enter conventional schooling. When given the Torrance Test of Creativity, 98 percent of kindergarteners score as creative geniuses, while only 3 percent of people remain in that category by age 25. Even worse, American K-12 students’ Torrance creativity scores have significantly decreased since 1990. The largest decrease is among kids in kindergarten to third grade.
This shift is largely driven by the shift in focus from purposeful, playful learning to learning discrete skills. The more kids are trained to perform, and the more a particular right answer becomes the goal of learning activities, the more the mind narrows its focus and fears failure or being wrong.
“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” — Joseph Chilton Pearce
This is not to say there is no place for right answers—we all need to learn that when you divide 300 by 20 there is only one correct answer. But, if a child can learn to divide by playing with objects, pictures and numbers before they learn the algorithm, they'll understand the fundamental underpinnings of mathematics and continue to nurture their creative mindset by learning from both right and wrong outcomes.
Thankfully, there are certain kinds of play experiences that contribute to developing a strong creative foundation—a set of key creativity mindsets or truths:
These are all truths that are really easy for little kids to grasp—we are wired to come into life thinking this way. So, it’s our job to fill their creativity buckets with loads of experiences that reinforce these truths, and continue to do so as a family. As Maya Angelou said,
"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."
So, the more creativity-boosting experiences the better! If we give these experiences to our kids, they will bring these truths into their schooling, giving them the best possible shot to carry a creative mindset into adulthood. That is why creativity is one of the 8 season skills we design for in our Tinkergarten learning program.
Try these 8 exercises to nurture the foundations of creativity:
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