Nurturing Creativity and Problem Solving at Home

“Children-must-be-taught-how-to-think-not-what-to-think.”-Margaret-MeadIt’s a fact.  Creativity fuels the ability to problem-solve, innovate, and explore new and unfamiliar areas. We experience this every single time we play-test Story Craze, the crazy story game.

Some people consider creativity that of being a painter or writer or dancer.  “Oh, she’s so creative!” Yet, creative thinking is inside every single one of us from the minute we are born. It is the ability to think in unusual ways. It is a kind of rational thought that is called divergent thinking. And as it suggests, the thought diverges in different directions or branches off into multiple solutions or answers to questions or problem. 

As an example, what are all the things you can do with a paper-clip? Most people can come up with a few, but highly divergent thinkers can come up with hundreds. And we believe that children are among some of the most highly divergent thinkers around because their minds are open to thinking in all sorts of directions. You know those kids with the endless questions of why? or how? or how come?

Yet studies show that over the past few decades childrens‘ creativity has tended to decrease with age. According to aboutkidshealth.ca, there is a decline that is most significant from kindergarten to third grade. They say it is due to the increase in standardized tests which stress conventional thinking skills that are focused on one idea or correct solution (convergent thinking). So, as a consequence, there seems to be less and less divergent thinking in the classroom.

There are things a parent can do to nurture creativity in your child, especially at home.  Most importantly, value creativity. Kids value what their parent’s value. So if a parent supports and encourages a painting or story or a different solution to a problem, that shows a child that they value their creativity and creative thoughts. Display art projects, attend artistic plays or shows, watch innovative TV shows. 

According to aboutkidshealth.ca, another way to value creativity is to model it. Everyday creativity can be as simple as rearranging furniture or having new ideas for dinner or vacations. Make creativity accessible for your child: if your child enjoys drawing, leave art supplies around. By modeling new ideas and perspectives, children learn how to think and behave creatively.

Give your kids opportunities to be self-expressive, autonomous, and original. Let them generate their own ideas and explanations for things. This helps nurture self-expression, which is a key part of learning to take more intellectual risks. Simple activities indoors and outdoors can help too. For instance, let children explore what the naked eye can’t see by using a magnifying glass throughout the home. Promote unstructured playtime outdoors. Studies show that exposure to nature will boost creativity and the desire to explore new things.

Reward creative behavior and original self-expression in your child. Rewards do not have to be material. Instead, use reward as an opportunity to bond with your child. For instance, spend 15 or 20 minutes reading their favorite book to them, or playing together with their favorite toy. If you choose to reward your child with a small treat, do it within reason. When your child is intrinsically motivated to be creative, rewards can be a distraction. They can cause a child to easily forget they were doing something because they enjoyed it.

Being positive about learning from mistakes in a playful manner is good!  Remind your child it is OK to make mistakes. Encourage them to think outside the box, explore, and make lots of mistakes. Doing this sparks the imagination and fosters the desire to discover. 

ABOUT 

Jen editedJan2016_O2A9648Ellen Stebbins and Marcie Jacobs are the founders of StoryClub Games, where imaginations run wild! Our products create experiences where people connect and get to know one another better, stretch their imaginations and have loads of fun. 

Our newest game, STORY CRAZE, is live on Kickstarter at www.storycraze.com. It’s the hilarious game that sparks imagination, creativity, and conversation in children to make up crazy stories. Developed with kids, it’s play-tested and kid approved! STORY CRAZE uses random PEOPLE, PLACES, and THINGS cards as cues to ignite outside-the-box thinking to make up outrageously funny stories. Kids UNPLUG from technology and have fun hanging out together!

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