Building creativity in children
Childhood now is vastly different from previous generations. Parents and teachers must be intentional about building creativity in children.
As a child growing up with two older siblings, if I wasn’t playing outside with my cousins or friends in the fields or woodlands, I would be creating my own elaborate storylines for my toys, getting lost in literature, or practising my creative writing. Yet nowadays, I find that as an English language teacher who has a lot of teaching experience, I’m always surprised by the lack of creativity in children.
If I ask them to write about a topic for ten minutes, or come up with the ideas to write a fictional story, they don’t have the ability to pull something from the depths of their minds that has real scope.
Lack of creativity in children
However, I don’t blame my students for their lack of creativity. I blame society and the fast paced world that we now live in. Growing up in the 90s seemed a much safer option for society compared to some areas of the world today, where I know parents would feel anxious to let their children play outside and take in their surroundings as possible inspiration for their next feature.
We must also take into account the accessibility to electronic gadgets nowadays, where the majority of children (in first world countries) have access to the internet, iPads, smart-phones and so on. When I was growing up, our internet consisted of that excellent dial up tone and slow access, which has all but faded into a distant memory, and the only gadget I had was a Gameboy, so no wonder I had the opportunity to use my imagination.
I do however, think creativity can be instilled into children. So if you want to build creativity in children, use some of these simple tips to help:
1. Read to your child
Firstly, I can’t stress enough how important it is to read stories together with younger children or spend time with older children as they read to you. Not only does reading stories increase your child’s vocabulary and help increase their imagination, it also allows them to think about plot and character development, in addition to practising their prediction skills, where you as a parent could ask questions to your child about what they think will happen next, or what will happen in the end without looking at the pictures!
More tips on the next page to build creativity in children.
2. Involve them around the house
Secondly, take the time to get them involved the next time you’re baking or cooking the family meal. The five senses really help a creative writing piece come alive, so if you surround them with those five senses, you can ask them to describe these to you which will help them become more intuitive. Ask them what the food feels like, what they can smell, what they can hear, and when you eat your final result, ask them to describe the texture or taste.
3. Expand their vocabulary
Often when I ask children to describe something, they use the words ‘nice’ or ‘good’ which are words in my opinion that should never be used! When my students use these words, I clap my hands, to make them realise the need to find an alternative. The world is full of vibrant vocabulary, and there is no reason not to find excellent substitutes.
4. Let them imagine
With younger children, I love making up my own words, or finding made up words online and asking them to create a definition and draw a picture of when this word could be used. It may sound like a silly activity, but when children are given the opportunity to explore their imagination, and have some fun whilst knowing that there is no right or wrong answer, their confidence grows and they want to practise more.
5. Have digital-free time
Finally, try and spend less time with technology and more time with real toys. Dedicate some time within the week where no gadgets are allowed, and you have to play board games as a family, or play with puzzles and toys with no time restraint.