by Karen Vanek
To encourage creativity in children: stand back, offer models, and help them find value in making mistakes.
First, hold back on criticism of children’s ideas. You may know that their idea needs fine tuning, but if you inquire instead of criticize, your reward will be a new creation. When my daughter chose to paint each wall of her room in a different geometric pattern, she had the creative design. She just needed help using the masking tape.
Next, don’t jump in and solve problems for children. Watch as they come to a solution on their own. This worked wonderfully when my granddaughter was designing a Fourth of July costume with poster board and glitter. The firecracker costume she created was so personal. In fact, tying curled ribbons to her wrists caught the judges’ eyes and won her a first prize.
To further inspire children to create, read them books about discovery. A great example is Mistakes that Worked by Charlotte Foltz-Jones. One example she shares is of Mr. Goodyear putting his wet boots in the oven that lead to the discovery of vulcanized rubber tires.
Finally, to be creative, children need to not fear making mistakes. The best advice I ever heard was, “Knowing why you were wrong is just as good as being right.” This frees children up to look at mistakes as learning opportunities. Isn’t this how scientists and mathematicians learn?
Creative children are a joy to behold. Have fun bringing out the creativity in your children.