Anyone who interacts with kids on a daily basis will be able to tell you how creative a child’s mind can be. They may make up the craziest stories, or do outrageously weird things that adults simply never imagine to do. Yet the thing is this: All of us started out like that. What makes us any less creative today?
Scholars have attributed the age-related decline in creativity to two main reasons, one of which is a natural process, and the other of which is influenced by our society.
- Nature: Our brains work to maximise efficiency. So, when we find a method of doing things that works well, we tend to stick to it. As the neural pathways for these processes are continually reinforced, it becomes harder to innovate new ways to do things.
- Society’s influence: Our education system rewards students for correct answers and penalises mistakes. This conditions us to want to seek the ‘right’ answers for everything, and shy away from divergent thinking.
However, you might be seeing a problem with this already. Although humans typically become less creative as we grow up, the world is in need of creative thinkers. We need innovators and inventors and problem-solvers to make our world progress. How, then, can we bridge the gap and make sure our younger generation is growing up without losing their creative spark?
According to well-known creativity coach Nick Skillicorn, there are some things you can do to keep your brain flexible as you age. These are some things you can easily implement with your kids as well to preserve their inherent creativity:
1. Seek out variety and new experiences
One way to keep your brain comfortable with thinking out of the box is to let it experience new things often. You can regularly bring your child to experience new attractions in town, try out a new cuisine, or vary something seemingly mundane like the route you take to bring them home.
Switching up your routine helps the brain get out of ‘autopilot’ mode, and gives it more opportunities to form new neural pathways. Who knows, seeing something from your novel experience may just give you the inspiration you need to start on that new creative project!
2. Schedule goals for creative projects
Taking active steps to stay creative is often far more effective than leaving it to chance. You can make it a point to embark on something creative with your child on a regular basis, like say, once a week. For older kids, you can set them a target and allow them to work on it on their own.
The goal is not for perfection, but for exercising the creative muscles. Thus, don’t worry if the result isn’t fantastic – through the regular projects, your child will also gradually improve their skills.
3. Protect time for daydreaming
Parents are sometimes overly concerned about giving their yaychild meaningful activities to do at every hour of the day. However, they don’t realise that time for unstructured activities is also essential.
For example, giving your child time to play freely is necessary to allow them opportunities to daydream. When they play by themselves without the structure imposed on them by an adult, they can exercise their imagination and let their creativity take flight.
4. Involve them in problem-solving
If you want your child’s creativity to later make an impact on the world, let them make an impact in your home first! Rather than quietly solving all the issues for the home, involve children in brainstorming solutions for little day-to-day problems.
It can be situations like you having forgotten to buy one ingredient for making lunch or them having got a toy get stuck in the tree. Inviting them to think of possible solutions and try them out will be valuable in helping them develop their problem-solving skills.
With these four strategies, you can help your child (or yourself!) stay creative every day for better problem-solving and innovative skills. Apart from your efforts at home, another thing that will benefit your child is to ensure that your child’s school is on the same page when it comes to encouraging creative thinking. After all, your child spends about half their day in school!
If you are looking for an international school in Singapore for your child, do pay attention to how they address creativity. International kindergartens that take an inquiry and play-based approach usually imply that they give pupils the chance to exercise their imagination, creativity, and self-discovery. As for international primary schools in Singapore, you might want to find one that offers variety in their learning activities as well as have a wide range of creative after-school activities.
Now that you know how to preserve and enhance creativity, it’s time to take creativity seriously, and don’t let the juices run dry!