Nurturing Creativity in Children – Should There Be a C in STEAM?

Children are naturally more creative than adults. That’s not just anecdotal evidence because my son told me “to go run and do something” when I asked him to put his pyjamas on.

Research shows that creativity in young children peaks before they enter middle school. Unfortunately, children’s creativity is declining. The Torrance Tests for Creative Thinking have been administered to national samples in the United States since the 1970’s and since the 1990’s, children’s creativity has been declining. This is concerning enough to be called the “creativity crisis.” Some research shows that creativity in childhood is a better predictor of accomplishments than IQ. And, when surveyed, business leaders rank the ability to think creatively as one of the top skills they are looking for.

So, What’s Causing the Decline?

The research does not tell us what is causing the decline of creativity in children. However, two things are often blamed: over-reliance on screen-based entertainment and increasingly structured (rigid) academics. In the Untied States, an obsession with assessment has been fuelled by laws and programs like No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top  and Every Student Succeeds. An emphasis on assessment of the schools is leaving little room for teachers to be creative and go off task based on student interest, weather or other variables. If teachers are less able to be creative, the effect drips down to students as well.

Children are spending more time than ever with screens for entertainment purposes. Theoretically, screens can be used for creative purposes. However, research shows that less than 3% of children’s time on screen is creative use. Children are consuming content which is influencing their play and ideas and research suggests there is a negative relationship between media use and creativity.

Nurturing Creativity in Our Children. What do We Do About it?

  1. Turn the Screens Off

It has long been said that boredom is the friend of creativity. If you are concerned about creativity, in yourself or your child, offer the opportunity to be bored. You may find that your child) is able to come up with some interesting ideas after little struggle.

  1. Encourage Questions

Instead of jumping to answer a child’s question or hopping to google to answer your own, allow your child’s creative brain to wrap to around “why” questions.

  1. Encourage Free Play in Kids (and Adults)

There are plenty of times when children and adults are creative just by the nature of needing to come up with game that will be fun for all. Children who have ample time for free play spend a big portion of it figuring out what to play, how to play, who will be in charge, etcetera.

  1. Get Outside

Seems simple but research shows that time in nature increases creativity. Researchers theorize this is because nature allows gentle, reflective stimulation like clouds moving, trees rustling or waves lapping. This type of input does not demand attention (like a push notification from technology), but instead allows our mind to wander.

  1. Uninhibited Drawing

Doodle, draw together and engage in other art-based activities that allow your child a form of creative expression.


You might also like …

In the movement towards creativity, Meghan has created a board game called Starting LinesTM for families and adults. The Kickstarter campaign was launched on August 1st and they would love to have your support. Find out more about their Get One/Give One option, a brilliant initiative where they will send you a game and donate one to charity. 

 


About the Author: Meghan Owenz

Meghan Owenz

Screen-Free Mom is a psychologist, writer and a university psychology instructor. She has her Doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Miami and Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. She is happily raising her two kids sans screens. She runs a website: www.screenfreeparenting.com where she writes about tech-wise parenting and provides tons of screen-free activities. 


 

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Anxiety will always tilt our focus to the risks, often at the expense of the very real rewards. It does this to keep us safe. We’re more likely to run into trouble if we miss the potential risks than if we miss the potential gains. 

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Sometimes staying safe will be the exactly right thing to do, but sometimes we need to fight for that important or meaningful thing by hushing the noise of anxiety and moving bravely forward. 

When children or teens are on the edge of brave, but anxiety is pushing them back, ask, ‘But what would it be like if you could?’ ♥️

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The truth of it all is that we are all born with a profound and immense capacity to rise through challenges, changes and heartache. There is something else we are born with too, and it is the capacity to add softness, strength, and safety for each other when the movement towards growth feels too big. Not always by finding the answer, but by being it - just by being - safe, warm, vulnerable, real. As it turns out, sometimes, this is the richest source of growth for all of us.
When the world feel sunsettled, the ripple can reach the hearts, minds and spirits of kids and teens whether or not they are directly affected. As the important adult in the life of any child or teen, you have a profound capacity to give them what they need to steady their world again.

When their fears are really big, such as the death of a parent, being alone in the world, being separated from people they love, children might put this into something else. 

This can also happen because they can’t always articulate the fear. Emotional ‘experiences’ don’t lay in the brain as words, they lay down as images and sensory experiences. This is why smells and sounds can trigger anxiety, even if they aren’t connected to a scary experience. The ‘experiences’ also don’t need to be theirs. Hearing ‘about’ is enough.

The content of the fear might seem irrational but the feeling will be valid. Think of it as the feeling being the part that needs you. Their anxiety, sadness, anger (which happens to hold down other more vulnerable emotions) needs to be seen, held, contained and soothed, so they can feel safe again - and you have so much power to make that happen. 

‘I can see how worried you are. There are some big things happening in the world at the moment, but my darling, you are safe. I promise. You are so safe.’ 

If they have been through something big, the truth is that they have been through something frightening AND they are safe, ‘We’re going through some big things and it can be confusing and scary. We’ll get through this. It’s okay to feel scared or sad or angry. Whatever you feel is okay, and I’m here and I love you and we are safe. We can get through anything together.’
I love being a parent. I love it with every part of my being and more than I ever thought I could love anything. Honestly though, nothing has brought out my insecurities or vulnerabilities as much. This is so normal. Confusing, and normal. 

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