The Importance of Nurturing Creativity in Kids

August 1, 2020
Dwayne Walker

It is a growing concern that the US school system is not doing enough to nurture creativity in its students. Parents around the country are worried that their kid is going to school to just learn how to pass standardized tests and follow strict orders by the teachers. The importance of nurturing creativity in kids outside of the mainstream school system is becoming more and more evident. Without this creativity, their personal development might be stunted in the future when they are no longer subject to the strict confines of the public school system. 

Parents should consider activities and lifestyles that promote creative learning outside of public schools. However, the school system should also be discussing the same action because boosting a child’s creativity inside and outside of their classroom setting will help them build a more fulfilling life for themselves. 

What Happened to Creativity?

Creativity has been stifled in the public school system in the last fifty years. As larger generations of students passed through elementary and secondary education, the schools themselves needed to figure out a way to successfully teach the basics as cost-effectively as possible because funding was, and still is, hard to come by. This led to a more rigorous and disciplined curriculum across the nation that resembled military academies instead of an institution meant to nurture children’s growth. 

In place of exploration and creative projects, teachers and principles have opted in for lesson plans that require lectures and long periods of sitting down and listening. For students who have already developed and are already in college, they can manage this without too much difficulty or lasting problems. However, adolescents who are still maturing need something more than this rigid system. Creative learning is more than just painting pictures and writing stories. It is becoming a better problem solver and a more self-motivated thinker. 

Raising Creative Children

While learning multiplication tables and the scientific method are great lessons to teach children, the woeful lack of imaginative learning in school closes doors to skills that kids will need when they grow up. Raising creative children means raising children that can express their emotions, act independently, figure out solutions to problems, interact in social situations, and think critically. 

A major problem many high school graduates find upon graduation is that they don't know what to do next. They’ve spent twelve years in school being told exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Now that they are free, they don't know where to go. A lack of creativity in teens means a lack of creativity in adults. Adults who aren’t creative typically struggle to become entrepreneurs, business owners, high ranking officials, or self-starting members of society. They usually end up floating aimlessly. 

That is why nurturing creativity in kids is incredibly important. It sets them up for present and future success that they can’t achieve without some well-trained creative muscles. An imaginative kid will occupy themselves with artistic pastimes, choose their own outfits and meals, talk to grownups, and mature much faster. A creative teen will explore future career options, adopt a pastime that benefits them in the long run, solve complex issues in their life, and be able to recognize what should be important to them. 

If you, as a parent, can start raising creative children, you will recognize a massive leap in development with your child that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. 

Nurturing Creativity in Kids

There are so many different ways to nurture creativity in kids from ages 4-12 that you will have plenty of options at your disposal. 

1. Spend time outdoors

2. Arts and crafts

3. Have complex conversations

4. Spend time reading

5. Allow free exploration

Spend Time Outside

Spending time in nature will do wonders for boosting your child’s creativity. The outdoors are filled with natural opportunities for questioning, building, exploring, and experimenting. If you’ve been outside with a child, you know they ask countless questions and want to explore every little nook and cranny. 

Don't be afraid to answer their questions, even if you may think they are too young to discuss the water cycle they might surprise you with great understanding. Also, don't be afraid to explore the question with them to discover the answer instead of simply handing it to them. Exploring nature leads to exploring life and exploring solutions. An explorer is willing to experiment and search in every aspect of their life. 

Arts and Crafts

This is obviously the cliche way to help boost creativity in children, but that doesn’t make it any less effective. Building something and seeing the fruits of their labor will be beneficial to a child’s confidence, no matter how young or old. 

As your child gets older, you can trust them with more significant projects and more open-ended creativity. Encourage your kid to go their own way instead of following the step by step directions. Also, don't take over projects to finish them up and make them more polished. This will only make your child think their job wasn’t good enough. As your child gets older, their skills will grow if you encourage and allow them to see every craft through to the end. 

Have Complex Conversations

No matter how old your kid is, it is worth pushing their critical thinking and knowledge boundaries. A lot of parents believe that this is what school is for, but too often schools err on the side of slow learning. It is easier just to assume every student is slower at grasping concepts and force everyone into the same timeline. You don't have to do that with your child. 

Obviously, there are sensitive subjects you might not want to discuss with your child fully, but nurturing creativity means being willing to explore complex ideas when you may not be ready. The ability to understand the concepts behind the government or the universe at a young age can lead a child to understand the concepts behind happiness and fulfillment later on in life. Asking and answering big questions will teach your child that these questions aren’t as big as they are made out to be. They are answerable. 

Spend Time Reading

This one is easy. Every child should be reading something outside of school assignments. Specifically, something that they pick and are interested in. Reading will help foster a lifelong love for reading and help solidify complex ideas and events to a child who might not be exposed to such things in a school environment.  

Allow Free Exploration

This tip is a little more ambiguous than the others, but the principle should be carried throughout everything you do with your kid. It is just as crucial as doing specific activities like reading to them or building a fort outside together. If you allow them to be free and to explore on their own, whether it be physically or mentally, they will grow and achieve so much more than they could if you keep them confined and stuck learning just in an outdated school system. 

Allowing your child to be physically free to explore can be a scary thought. What if they get hurt? What if they get lost? What if they see something they shouldn’t? These things are more unlikely than you think, but what you need to understand is that you can make sure your child is safe while still allowing them freedom. 

You can allow a kid to explore off the beaten path at the park because you won’t be too far. You can let your child play outside with friends without you because you can trust them to stay in the cul de sac where they are with people they know. If something were to happen to them, it would most likely end up in a bumped knee or scraped up elbow. These things heal and the lessons your kid will learn will go so much further than anything they could learn stuck to your hip. 

The other aspect of freedom is being free in their mind. This may not seem like the scarier of the two options, but it is definitely the less prevalent in school and homes. Creativity can not exist when free thought is suppressed. 

Don't be afraid if your child starts questioning your truths or beliefs. If you demand them to stop thinking like that, then you will only push the child further away from you. Entertaining contrarian modes of thought is the best way to nurture a creative mind. You can still do this while supporting and encouraging ideas that you hold to be true, but you must ultimately realize that it will always be a choice your child has to make. 

Regardless of what you do, you need to nurture creativity in kids, because the school system won’t. At least not yet. If the popular mode of thinking continues to change as it has in recent years, and if parents like you encourage more creative outlets and activities, we might be very close to a schooling reform that allows for more creative learning. 

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