This post was written and contributed by my guest, Adelyn Siew, of Adelyn Makes. Adelyn is an incredible artist and I encourage you to visit her website and view her work. You can also read the post I wrote for her site here—it’s about connecting with our kids through creativity and includes a fun idea to try in your own home.
This post suggests an exercise to do with your children to help cultivate their creativity. The exercise is drawn from the strategy described in my free e-book, “You Are Creative”. The picture below is one from my very own weekly cultivating creativity exercise using one source of inspiration and limiting myself to one style and just two black felt tip pens.
I had a flip-top desk when I was child. It was in the living room and placed perpendicular to the wall with my back to the TV. Because of its unique placement, I had my own space that I could sit within. In that space, I have distinct memories of drawing and creating weird and wonderful things every day. I remember not ever being short of crafting material because there was always something inside my desk to make something with. My mom often picked a few for display around the house and I delighted each time she did that.
This memory of my little space is significant because it embodies three aspects needed for cultivating creativity in children: conducive environment, endless opportunity, and positive validation. One more key aspect of my memory: I was in my space creating every day.
You can cultivate creativity in your children by scheduling a daily (or weekly depending on your family schedule) “creative” activity. The activity could be a variety of things, such as body movement, making art or problem solving, cooking depending on the age of your children. The idea here is to pick one activity to do for a period of two months so that the broad parameters remain the same, allowing deep immersion into the chosen activity. For example, your activity could be crafting with paper plates, a pair of scissors and glue. For the two months, use only these three elements to create something new. This forces them to think beyond the common. Once they push past the barrier of the common paper plate fish and turkey, that’s when magic happens.
If you are homeschooling, please don’t place any “curriculum outcomes” on it so that you and your children are not pressured to get to an endpoint. Making it part of your routine makes your kids anticipate it, their bodies relish the endorphin release and their brains form a habit. The activity needs to make them think outside the box and ponder a little harder. The aim is to exercise the creative brain muscle and to cultivate a creative habit.
Mid-way through, introduce a change in one of the parameters. For the example above, you could introduce coloured paper. At the end of the two months, have a little exhibition or party to show off their work and pick one to display in your home.
This strategy incorporates the three aspects. You are creating a conducive environment by letting them know that thinking outside the box is allowed and in fact, required for the activity to be fun. The opportunity of time allocated to it encourages growth and development. The positive validation of displaying and celebrating their handiwork provides a confidence boost. And most importantly, this strategy establishes a creative habit.
Do try it. You won’t regret it.