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Encourage Creativity

Research shows that children start learning even before they are born as they hear sound and react to light. As your child’s first teacher, you make a powerful difference in what your child learns and how they think.

You do this by encouraging curiosity, by using everyday experiences to inspire new ideas and by building their confidence. Creativity is about experimenting and using tools, equipment and the environment, being dynamic, thinking out of the box and critiquing solutions.

Have you ever felt you are not imaginative? If so, take a little time to brainstorm your thoughts around this subject. Consider where this belief came from, the impact it has made on your life and how it may influence your child’s thinking.
What have you learnt? How does that make you feel? What do you want for your child?

The changing world of work
Innovation and creative thinking are two things that are values in the changing world of work. Many of the most successful companies value it as essential. They encourage employees and teams to take the time, space and energy to be creative, to re-invent products and services and to consider new solutions to problems.

Jeff Mauzy and Richard Harriman in the popular book Creativity, Inc. state, “Divergent thinking, the ability to make mental connections between unrelated matters, … [as] one commonly accepted indicator of creative capacity and the breaking and making connections [as] where most of the work of creativity gets done.”

Try it out
Have a go at being divergent, right now, for two minutes. Think about or jot down as many things as you can think of that are round and made of wood.

How did you do? What was your score? Were you worried that your answer may be wrong or even silly? What is it that helped you think divergently? What is the learning here for you as a parent?

Now consider the other end of the scale. Describe a time when you felt most creative.

What did it feel like to be creative? What made this event a success? What were your success criteria? How can you replicate this feeling of success both at work and in your personal life?

One important piece of learning is that it’s alright to make mistakes, especially if you are a child. Encourage them to experiment in safe environments, to make a mess (it can always be cleaned up) and to learn from their mistakes too by developing them.

Some of the greatest artists critiqued their work in a negative sense so much that they would not display it for others to share. What message is that telling you? Is being perfect the best way? Is anything ever perfect?

Encourage curiosity
Your child will be naturally curious and will know instinctively to ask questions. In fact, children often ask better questions than adults! Listen to them and build on your child’s curiosity. Inspire their imagination with open questions such as: What’s that picture about? Why have you put it there? What if you had all the space in the world?Encourage your child to think of the answers or solutions.

Encourage creativity in everyday experiences
Creativity is not always tangible and it really can happen anywhere. It can be inspired by music, architecture, colours, foods – the list is endless. By using everyday experiences to facilitate creativity, you are showing your child that their surroundings, even the simplest things in life, can help them to imagine the unknown.

Try this out in the car, on a walk or when you’re cooking together. Take crayons and paper along when you go out to eat and on long journeys.

Ask your child what they would like to draw. Join in yourself too. Encourage your children to draw a scene, a story about a restaurant in another country or on Mars. Get them to talk about their ideas.

Build their confidence
To build confidence and self-esteem, it’s good to encourage your child to see things in many different ways and believe in their ideas. You may need to help them express what they’re thinking, so encourage them to write and draw as well as vocalise their thoughts. Let them take the lead in coming up with new ideas. Let them know that you are interested in their thoughts and creations. Celebrate success to show them that their unique styles are valued.

By being an enthusiastic and encouraging parent, you are making a difference to their artwork and perception of art, whilst helping them to develop to their full potential. Have fun being creative!

Dr Clare Beckett-McInroy is a certified professional coach, who works with individuals and organisations to enable them to reach their potential.  Email clare@beckett-mcinroy.com

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