My kiddos are still little, 3 and 1, however like most parents my husband and I have had many discussions about what is important to us when raising our kids. There are the values we want instilled in them from a young age: being kind, considerate, truthful, etc. There are the activities we want to expose them to: sports, music, friendships. There are the habits that we have tried to establish early on: saying please and thank you, praying before we eat dinner, playing outside more than watching tv, reading to our kids (I am counting down the days until it is appropriate for me to start reading Harry Potter to them). Recently, I realized that one idea that my husband and I have never really discussed is fostering their creativity.
Now even though we have not discussed it, doesn’t mean we don’t already incorporate activities to foster their creativity: from the obvious crafting activities where my son creates gloriously hideous works of “art” to the not so obvious in that through free play their imaginations run wild, and all of the activities in between.
I know I can’t force my kids to like sports or be good at an instrument or want to be in musical theater, however I think I might be able to force them to be creative. Read that again, I can force them to be creative – not artistic (they may end up being artistic as well, but it’s not the same thing).
So how do I go about forcing them to be creative? Well, truthfully it is not forcing them so much as it is providing many opportunities for them to be creative. So how will I do it?
Growing up in my family, sports and school were stressed above all else (other than faith). As long as I was achieving to the best of my ability in school and putting forth my best effort on whatever team I happened to be on at the time, my parents were happy. I wouldn’t change any of it. I had a very happy childhood and was afforded many opportunities, but sometimes I do wonder what would be different if I had been forced into more creative activities.
In school – grade school, high school, and college I made no effort to do anything outside of academics and athletics. The one exception being a sewing class I took in high school (which was probably my favorite class ever). I never took any other classes that were even remotely creative. The reason? Because it never occurred to me! It was not on my radar – it was not something I ever imagined for myself. I don’t often wish I could change many things about my past, but think of all the amazing classes I could have taken in college if I just would have thought of myself as a creative being at that time. Wasted opportunities!
So for my kids, I won’t force one of them to take a photography class if he or she does not want to (probably not anyway), but I want them to know it is an option and to consciously make the choice not to take it rather than just never even considering it.
Why is it important to me that my kids practice their creativity? Since I have hit my 30’s, I have noticed more people that seem unhappy with something in their lives. Of course, we aren’t all going to be happy all of the time, but it certainly seems like we should be happy most of the time…right? Anyway, I can’t help feeling like a lot of this unhappiness comes back to not being in touch with your creativity. Whether it is not knowing what you like to do in your free time that will leave you happy and fulfilled, or feeling stuck in a job that sucks the life out of you. Or something else. Whatever it is, I believe the earlier you can be aware of your options + the more you know yourself, the better. Creativity helps us do just that.
So how can I get my kids to practice their creativity? Sorry, no tips or tricks here. I’m the first to admit that I have no idea what I am doing. However, I think my husband and I need to be cognizant of the types of activities we sign them up for and realize that providing my kids with opportunities to foster their creativity doesn’t just mean signing them up for an art class.
It’s getting outside.
It’s activities that do not have one specific set of rules.
It’s using their imaginations.
It’s not sitting in front of the tv or iPad all day.
It’s free play.
It’s being silly.
It’s taking a look at kids’ busy schedules and making sure there is time for them to do what they want. For incorporating free time.
It’s reading to them and then have them reading on their own.
Once again, my kids are 3 and 1, so I have no clue how this all turns out, but I’m going to try my best.
I’d love to hear from you – How do you foster creativity in your kids? If you don’t have kids, how are you fostering creativity in your own life?