Why does it matter?
Sir Ken Robinson put it best when he said, “Creativity is as important now in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.”
According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity are the three most important skills a child will need to thrive. Furthermore, creativity jumped from 10th place to third place in only the past five years. And, although our kids are still far from public office or the boardroom, today’s political and business leaders worldwide already point to creativity as the most important leadership quality for the future.
Many Tinkergarten explorers are not yet in math class, but it won’t be long. Some of our older explorers already are. Thankfully, there are certain kinds of play experiences that contribute to developing a strong foundation in creativity. By foundation, we mean developing a set of key creativity mindsets or truths, including:
- There are infinite possible uses for any object.
- There are many possible solutions to any problem.
- The messier the better.
- “Wrong” outcomes lead to the “right” outcomes.
- We can take things apart and make new things.
These are all truths that are really easy for little kids to grasp—they come into life thinking this way. So, it’s our job to fill their creativity buckets with loads of experiences that reinforce these truths, and continue to reinforce these ideas as a family. As Maya Angelou said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” So, the more creativity-boosting experiences the better! If we give these experiences to our kids, they will bring these truths into their schooling, giving them the best possible shot to carry a creative mindset into adulthood.
Get started today preserving your child’s creative capacity. Try these eight exercises to nurture the foundations of creativity:
- Give kids purposeful play experiences. Humans creativity always has some kind of starting point. Just be sure to offer the starting point and then give plenty of space for kids to take it from there. Try some of these DIY ideas to start.
- A truth a week: Take one of the truths listed above and repeat it to yourself as you watch your child play each week. How do you contribute to reinforcing that truth? How might you unwittingly undermine it? It’s hard, for example, not to step in to help kids when you see that they are building a tower that is certain to fall. But, from a creativity standpoint, a child will learn so much more from seeing a flawed solution through and learning from the results. It’s amazing how really focusing on each of these truths can lead to changes in our behavior!
- Encourage (or even just allow) kids to make messes. Not all kids will want to get as messy as others (we all have different sensory systems). But, there is great wisdom to the saying, “Play messy today, think messy (or freely) later.” When we allow kids to make mud, mix different paints together, or dump out all of the toys to see what happens, we allow them the chance to get comfortable acting freely and exploring a wider range of possibilities. In short, we’re giving them the go ahead to play outside the box so they can think outside the box later on.
- Cheer when kids take things apart. There is great value in destruction — it’s one of the key creative acts. Meanwhile, gently teach them that not all objects (e.g. the remote control or your neighbor’s flower bed) are open for destruction.
- Remember, every object has infinite uses to the creative mind. Try to never correct a child’s use of an object unless they are using something in an unsafe way (and even then, try to find a better way to say “be careful.”)
- Model creative thinking yourself. If you have a creative practice, be sure to share that with your kids. Or, play alongside them as you try out creativity-boosting activities together. Model using everyday objects in novel ways. Model failing and trying again. It’s actually a whole lot of fun once you let yourself go!
Children who are exposed to ART are more RESOURCEFUL and ADAPTABLE
You and I both know that art is really important in the life of a child. I mean, I’m an art teacher, and you’re here reading this page. So, we know. But until recently, there is something I actually didn’t know. Or hadn’t fully been aware of.
It turns out that there is this thing called creative literacy, which is the understanding and ability to use the skills learned through creative process to make connections, solve problems, and communicate meaning. Skills like inventiveness, focus, perseverance, and collaboration.
Wow! When my kids were little, I knew that the messy art room made them happy and helped them express their feelings, but I never realized that the skills they were learning then would give them such a huge advantage in the “real world”.
It appears that heavily investing in your children’s creative literacy will likely give them a better chance at finding work and fulfillment in the future. Being resourceful and adaptable leads to discovery and innovation. As more and more of the things humans are good at are being outsourced to computers, robots, and even apps (think driverless Uber), artists are emerging on top.
At a time when most of our abilities are becoming irrelevant (bye-bye skilled labor, hello 3D printer), creativity is our one remaining power that can’t be outsourced.