5 Ways to Encourage Creativity

I get the chance on a daily basis to watch my young daughters build and explore new ideas. Watching my children's natural tendency toward creativity allowed me to dive into my own feelings and limitations around creativity. Creativity is this elusive characteristic that only certain artists get to claim in our society. I think creativity is a natural born quality we all have that is either ignored or grown as we become adults. My daughter will look at a cloud or a pile of sticks and say it looks like a squirrel or elephant. She may build or draw something that may resemble a train with new parts or qualities. My younger daughter my create new dance moves or dress her doll in unusual outfits using items around the house. All of these actions require creativity. Creativity requires bravery to try something new. For adults creativity can be uncomfortable and stir up anxiety. Yet children have the capacity for extraordinary innovation every single day.

So when and why does that creativity diminish as we get older? Why do creative ventures drum up fears of failure? How do we foster an environment that allows our children to grow their own creativity?

Much of the creativity I see from my young daughters has to do with their age and brain development. According to results from the UK government’s report on literacy, children were most creative between the ages of 3-5 when 98% of those tested demonstrated the ability to think in divergent (non-linear) ways. For older children and adults we have to practice and grow our creativity daily. We have to create environments that foster creativity and new ideas. So after delving into some fun reading, research, and videos on creativity I came up with a list of things to help nurture creativity in myself and my children.

1. Less Judgment, More Listening. One of the biggest blockers of creativity is fear of rejection. I want to make my home a place where everyone has a high sense of self-efficacy.

2. Allow yourself to be alone without distractions. Children and adults need solitude to hear their own creative voice. This may be a walk, drive, sitting on the porch or just turning your phone off for the night.

3. Give creativity space. Pull the art supplies out of the bookshelf. Have open-ended items and books easily available for children to explore. Make room for your child's interests in your home.

4. Practice creativity. Identify the moments in our daily lives where we have chances to be creative and also seek opportunities to  be creative. It may be discussing ideas at book club, writing, dance, cooking, gardening, lesson plans or event planning. Practice builds creative confidence.

5. Be open to being wrong. Trial and error of new ideas means things may not always work out.

Sources and further reading

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