The Cycle of Creativity
In order for someone, whether she's a kindergartner, sixth grader, high schooler, college student or a full-fledged adult, to get to know the world she lives in and be truly creative, she needs to hit six steps:
- Imagine: Come up with an idea. Much like a hypothesis, some of the best ideas come from the desire to find a solution to a common problem.
- Create: Build or construct something based on the idea.
- Debug: Figure out what isn't working and think about how to do it differently, because chances are, whatever she creates isn't going to work the way she expected.
- Share: Show it to others and seek their opinions. They might say, "This would be even better if it also had..." or "This looks great, but why did you do...?"
- Reflect: Take in what others have said, think about her own experiences and plan some next steps.
- Iterate: Do it over. Revise what she's done based on her reflections.
10 Tips to Instant Imagination
Encouraging creativity in your child might seem easy enough, but any parent who's ever asked how their kid's day at school went and got a blasé "Fiiine" knows it takes some finesse. Resnick might have a PhD, but his advice doesn't come from any book: It's all thanks to the real experts — the kids he learns from at Lifelong Kindergarten.
1. Just don't say no.
The quickest way to stop kids from being creative is to, well, stop them. "You should never inhibit them from doing their explorations because, a lot of times, it might seem silly, but it is serving a productive role." So, next time they're playing with their food, let 'em at it. When they put club soda in the mayonnaise, who knows what's going to happen?
2. Fire away.
Just letting them make a mess, however, won't necessarily lead to learning. This is where, Resnick says, parents and educators play a vital role by asking the right questions and plenty of them. Try questions such as "Why do you think that happened?" or "What do you think would change if you tried this?"
3. Give 'em what they want.
You wouldn't want to cross a river without a canoe and paddle, would you? You can't expect your kids to use their creative juices if they don't have the supplies they need. So fill the house with craft materials, gizmos and whatever else they might need to express themselves on a whim.
Also, provide them with access to varied opportunities so that they can discover what it is they are interested in. "Allow your child to develop his or her own interests, and don't be so quick to narrow them down," Resnick says. "But that's not to say that they shouldn't be joining in other activities." Taking part in experiences with others, such as parents, siblings, friends or classmates, can help. For instance, a child in a household where the parents love to read classic novels is more likely to grow up with the same interest.