Thursday, June 20, 2013

Understanding Gifted/Talented Children Series - Pt II - Encouraging Creativity

 photo creativity.jpg

It is time for my second post in the Understanding Gifted/Talented Children series. Today will be all about encouraging creativity in our children. While I am focusing on the Gifted/Talented children, of course, this really goes for all of the children in our lives.

A lot of this post will be focusing more on ways parents can help to encourage their children's creativity. However, much of the information overlaps and is also pertinent to the classroom teacher as well.

Creativity is defined as "the ability to make something new" - this is a characteristic that is often found in the gifted child. As parents, we often see these characteristics long before our children enter school. Some children may exhibit some behaviors at a very early age that indicate they are a highly creative child. The following list is by no means a complete list but rather a sample of behaviors parents might observe.
  • adventurous
  • attracted to the unknown
  • curious
  • spontaneous
  • open to new ideas
  • attention to detail
  • rich fantasies/good imagination/daydreams
  • loves storytelling
What can a parent or teacher do to encourage and help further develop creativity in a child? There are many things that can be done. Check out this list. Again, this list is not complete, but it is a good start!
  • value and encourage expressions of creativity
  • stress openness
  • share your enthusiasm for life
  • be playful and imaginative with the child
  • allow relaxation time (Don't have every minute of everyday scheduled with activities.)
  • encourage your child's interests
  • have a sense of humor
  • respect your child's ideas and interests
  • have some "family fun"
  • put emphasis on achievement, not grades (I know we have to have the grades..don't emphasize all the time.)
Specific Ideas for Encouraging Creativity

All of the following ideas are great for parents to use in the home and some of these carry over to inside the classroom. So teachers, you aren't being "let off the hook" so to speak!
  • give your child a place at home where they can have works "in progress"
  • provide materials for making things (this can be as simple as tape, scissors, aluminum foil, empty boxes, recyclable materials, etc.)
  • provide opportunities for lessons in music, art, drama, dance, etc. - BUT - make sure this is something that your child WANTS to pursue - not you
  • take trips to museums, concerts, shows - arrange for your child to meet the artist/performer
  • display your child's work proudly
  • look for after-school and summer programs
  • model and teach that hard work, practice, and perseverance are all part of being creatively successful - BUT please be careful NOT to pressure
  • model your problem-solving (think aloud)
  • praise your child's creativeness in a genuine manner
  • allow your child to have "quiet time" for when he/she needs time to think, write, read, draw, practice, etc.
Again - I know some of these suggestions seem more geared toward parents. But, TEACHERS - you can certainly turn some of these suggestions around and make them work inside the classroom setting as well. Lets be sure to encourage the creativity of our children.

If you would like more information on encouraging creativity:  Growing Up Creative: Nurturing a Lifetime of Creativity by Teresa Amabile.  

You can find the first post in this series located HERE.

Please share your ideas and suggestions about how to encourage creativity in children in the comments section. I am always looking for new ways to help my students.


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