So, I am going to tell you a secret.
If you create with your child today, you will help them have a successful career in the future.
Would that get you moving? Truth be told, its likely true!
In thinking back about my childhood, I don’t recall a time where I was not creating. I am not talking about glue and paint, pencil and paper sort of creating but rather use of imagination to find fun in my childhood days. As one of four children, with a stay at home mom, toys were not abundant and time outside was extensive. We had ONE, read it, one toy box in the family room when I was really small. Please don’t think my parent’s were stingy. Truthfully, they were just the opposite. They gave us subtlety each day the gift of creativity in our lives and they gave us the gift of time to play and explore.
Let me explain. I did not have a Barbie dream house, though I would have loved one. Instead, I took books and blocks and cards and anything else I could find around and made a dream house to play in. I remember those creations perfectly. We did not have pre-made forts but rather used boxes or blankets and chairs. We would hide under trees or up in trees and pick up bugs and poke things with sticks. We got messy and we learned to clean up. Predetermined activities did not fill every moment of our days, so we had to figure out how to do that ourselves.
The lives of my children and my children’s friends are so different from my own though. We have a society of abundance despite economic hardships. We have overflowing houses and overpacked schedules. Organized sports start early in life as do demands on children’s time. Their little brains are bombarded daily with information in all sensory forms. Core curriculum and standardized tests mark their school years and fill their nights with homework. To what avail?
I was struck the other day to come across an article that said something interesting about creativity so I followed it several places. Each of the articles was about the death of creativity in America. Most importantly, the articles noted a decline in creativity in our youngest (and should be), most voracious creators, children in Kindergarten through 6th grade.
For the purpose of the study discussed and reviewed, the “accepted definition of creativity is production of something original and useful… There is never one right answer. To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).” (source Newsweek)
Long story short, just like any process, creativity requires a combination of things happening in our brains. It requires both the right AND the left sides of the brain. It requires we understand, search and then problem solve and quickly act during that aha imaginative whole thinking moment. Is it something we can teach? Sure! Neuroscience has taught us that the “tracks” in our brains can be over ridden with conscious effort, basically learning something new or relearning how to use our brains constructively. Pretty cool right? So why is it that in a study released by Adobe last year called State of Create Global Benchmark Study, they discovered that while 8 in 10 people value creativity, only 1 in 4 believe they are living up to their creative potential. The Benchmark Business Blog says this…”Translated, this means that while we value creativity as a society, that value is based on predisposed notions rather than meaningful inclusions in our daily life, let alone business life.”
Creativity is not a job title, crafts, capability or skills. Creativity is state of mind, which you can use in everything you see and do. – Idris Mootee
In the next click of the mouse, I read an article that rang true in my Occupational Therapy heart. It talked about the power of art and music to help children connect with themselves and the world, despite major challenges in their lives. Serendip out of Bryn Mawr College, talks too about art, music and dance and their abilities to reshape neural pathways to benefit cognitive, social and motor abilities. Practice and repetition help to organize thoughts and build attention. Participation in these activities ultimately helps with problem solving skills. Are we seeing the carry over here? (BTW… I love it when something I can see happening in therapy is then backed by neuroscience research. Woot!!) To recap… creativity is NOT a one sided thing in my mind (or anyone else’s mind for that matter) It’s a whole minded thing!
Nothing we do at first is easy. It takes effort and patience. Creative processes are no different. Helping your children to feel and be creative when you do not is like trying to move Mt. Rushmore with a back hoe. Am I right? I guess that my point is this… you can’t teach it if you don’t try it. That has always been my mantra. Ask any therapist I have supervised over the years. When you do something first and take time to figure it out, that makes you an expert relative to the next person who has never tried. Think about the person who has lost 10 pounds when you have just started your weight loss journey. You ask them… how did you do it?! Then you give it a try and figure out what works for you.
Creativity is a process and something we can learn. There are MANY ways to be creative in our everyday lives. Artists are creative. Poets are creative. Photographers are creative… but so are mathematicians and accountants who take a look at a problem and solve it a different way. Scientists are some of the most creative minds as well! So why not go out and take your best creative self and be creative with your children today? They will thank you tomorrow.
Thanks for reading!