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Monday, September 15, 2014

How Do You Raise Creative Kids?

Lessons Learned

Creative Kids

How do you raise creative kids? In our highly structured, overly scheduled, and incessantly measured world, the answer to the creative kids question is one that most would rather not hear for it requires a brave leap off the lock-step treadmill upon which we and all of the Joneses ceaselessly, exhaustedly, and occasionally resentfully race each day. The dial of popular thought and status quo sets our pace, and we run and our children run because everyone runs.  We do because they do. We run because they run. We sign up because they all sign up.  Don’t  misunderstand here, though, activity is important, involvement is good, and engagement is meaningful, but we all know if we look honestly at ourselves, that we completely tend toward extremes and a distinct compulsion in the direction of obsession. Too much. Too, too, too much.  Too fast. Too much, too fast to have time to breathe, to enjoy, to think, to savor, to relax, to imagine, to play, to create is unequivocally our collective MO.  To raise creative kids, you need to give them time, margin in their schedules, to creatively play. Just as calisthenics are exercises for the body, so is play the exercise for creativity.  And play that nurtures creativity does not mean TV and movies, hand-held devices and all other screens; play that nurtures creativity means paper plates, sticks, blocks, paper, crayons, brown paper bags, wood, paint, duct tape, sugar cubes, glue, recycled materials, and an endless stream of ordinary items that undoubtedly lead to extraordinary ideas and creations with the added and very illusive ingredient of time.  The sandbox and a hose are brilliant for imaginative adventures. Blankets over chairs and end tables are brilliant for imaginative adventures. Brown paper bags for wreaths, cowboy vests, pirate hats, stuffed with newspaper for large bricks, woven for placemats, and on and on as far as an imagination can travel, these are the quintessential imagination enhancers and play exercisers. How do you raise creative, imaginative, innovative-thinking kids? Let them play. Put away the schedule for a while, and let them play.