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Marjorie Sarnat : Practical Ways to Encourage Creativity in Kids

Practical Ways to Encourage Creativity in Kids

By Marjorie Sarnat

As the mom of two incredible kids, one special needs and one identified as gifted, and as a former teacher, I know that creative genius can arise out of any child anywhere. You cannot predict creative aptitude by looking at typical classroom performance. My special needs daughter astonishes me with her handmade folk dolls as much as my gifted son does with his writing skills.

Dream On

Creative kids are often daydreamers. The word, "daydreamer," has traditionally held negative connotations. Words such as unaware, lazy, and unmotivated are often used to describe daydreamers. But the truth is almost always the opposite. What's going on in a dreamer's head is likely to be original ideation, visualization, imaginative thought, and creative problem solving. Daydreaming is a good thing.

Dreamers Shape the Future

If your student is overcome by a fascinating thought that has nothing to do with the history lecture going on, forgive him for spending a few moments on his path to change the world. Your dreamer could be laying the early foundation of a groundbreaking innovation he'll someday bring to reality.

My teachers always thought I was daydreaming, but I wasn't. I was imagining. Some of the things I imagined became drawings at home, and some of those drawings would later evolve into top selling products. By "later" I mean years later.

On a lighter note, math was my favorite subject in grade school because the paper we used had no lines. I drew my best sketches of classmates during math. I tried to make the case that it was ok because I was working with "figures," but my teachers were not happy.

Knowledge Is Power — But Not By Itself

Don't get me wrong. I believe that a good education is essential for everyone, and daydreamers need control if they are to learn. Knowledge plus creativity plus motivation is the magic 3-part formula that leads to achievement. Nothing great has been achieved without creativity in the mix. Of course the world needs top students, but it needs kids who imagine every bit as much.

Promote Creativity

Tell your child that creativity is a valuable part of his brainpower, and encourage him to exercise it. Kids crave problem solving challenges, imagination games, thought prompts, and other idea sparkers that get their creative juices flowing. (For a jumpstart try the free lesson plans offered by my company, Jr Imagination and check out our app, Creative Genius On-the-Go. Disclosure: this is a paid app.)

Idea Catchers

All great achievers, today and in the past, share the same habit: recording and keeping ideas. Idea catcher journals are a great way for kids to collect their imaginative thoughts, observations, and sketches. Ideas, the precious elements of achievement, must be captured before they drift away.

  • Small spiral bound notebooks and sketchbooks make great Idea Catchers because they're inexpensive, easy to use, and ballpoint pens hook onto their bindings. When you're out and about a journal without a pen is useless.
  • It's fun for kids to personalize the covers by gluing drawings and interesting pictures onto the front, adding a title if they wish. Use a permanent glue stick or clear acrylic gel as an adherent. After the glue dries protect the cover by brushing on a coat of clear acrylic gel.

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