Nurturing Creativity at Home: What do you brag about as a parent?

by Matthew Worwood

It’s the greatest thing to be a parent. The love that we have for our child is overwhelming and impossible to put into words. We are proud of ‘nearly’ everything they do, and watch in amazement as they grow and develop (excluding the terrible twos).

It’s natural for us to want to share our children’s accomplishments and brag how advanced they are in crawling, talking, walking, counting, that they know there letters, and might be able to memorize the spelling of a few words and names of objects. Around three your child might even demonstrate some giftedness in a particular area, but ultimately most children progress at the same time and in the same way give or take a couple of months. It’s their personalities that evolve differently!

As a new parent in the new mommy and daddy pack, I’m just as guilty of bragging, but I’ve begun to be more conscious on what I brag about.  I think promoting creativity begins at home, and we must do more to nurture and encourage creative thinking. As parents we must think beyond the ‘academics’ and focus more on bragging about the creativity characteristics that are much more likely to lead to success in life then getting an A on the test.

Think about what you focus on with you spend that precious time with your child? What do you get most excited about? Is it balanced between ‘school stuff’ and creativity? It’s great to take the time to teach your child to learn the fifty states at three, it’s a proud moment when your little one looks at a Stop sign and says S.T.O.P, we want our children to go into pre-school counting to 10 or 20, but we must not neglect the imagination, curiosity, originality, and the ability to produce and consider many alternatives. What we know is that the education system will teach children the fifty states, and by adults we’ll probably remember about 45 of them. We can expect that most children at age 6 or 7 will be able to spell S.T.O.P and a variety of other words, plus they’ll not only be able to count to 100 but will likely be moving into multiplication as well, and by 15 they’ll be teaching us the Math. We know schools will focus on the academics, so lets spend sometime focusing on creativity as well. I recently produced a Documentary about Creativity in Education, and the imbalance that exists between teaching content verses nurturing creativity. Lets avoid adding more fuel to the fire.

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Below is a list of things that I think help make for a good balance in nurturing creativity, while trying to raise the whizz kid in the class.

  • Reading. There’s lots of evidence that suggests reading is one of the most important things to do with your child prior to starting school. Children that grasp reading early are much more likely to succeed in the core subjects in school and more easily identify letters. It doesn’t have to be heavy on the academics, so I suggest finding stories that are fun and likely to engage the imagination.
  • Apps. At the time of writing this, there’s not a lot of research out there about apps in early years development and I certainly to do not agree with children turning into tablet zombies, but some of the interactive storytelling apps are really fun, engaging the imagination, while interacting with technology at the same time.
  • Just go with it. When your bundle of joy engages with his imagination while referring to a leaf as an ice-lolly, resist the temptation to immediately correct him to inform him exactly what kind of leaf it is. Instead ask him questions. What flavor is the ice-lolly? What does it smell like? This gives them permission to be creative and allow their magical world to last a little longer.
  • Curiosity/Problem-Solving. Kids love to ask the ‘Why’ question. Before responding to ‘what happens to the sun at nighttime’ ask them to guess first. You might get some really imaginative responses. Also, if they say ‘What are you doing Daddy’, ask them to tell you what they think you’re doing. Get them to develop comfort in problem-solving independently from the adult. This includes letting a child occasionally get frustrated as they figure out that new toy.
  • Play. Make sure the iPad, reading, counting, and that 50 state jigsaw are not all that you do with your child. Build castles with cushions, create a fancy dress box, change the design of the train track, and makes Legos without using the instructions.

Ultimately, its important to know that evidence does not indicate that students who succeed on the test are more likely to succeed in life. There’s a variety of literature that supports the idea that success is a combination of multiple factors that include opportunity, talent, and creativity. So let’s brag as much about our child’s imagination, ideas, and curiosity, as we do about their ability to memorize facts, figures, and letters. I know I’m doing something right when my boy places his finger high up in the air, lights up with a cheeky smile and says ‘Hey Daddy, I got an idea.’

CE_FREEMOVIEV3FREE FILM on Creativity in Education

Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance. is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. To gain FREE access, subscribe to my bi-annual news letter, The Future Creative.

Matthew Worwood
Matthew Worwood is an educator, Creative Studies scholar-practitioner, and co-host of the Fueling Creativity in Education podcast. He is a professor of Digital Media Design at the University of Connecticut and a husband and proud father to three young boys.

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1 comment

Jonathan Furst July 30, 2014 - 6:28 pm

You really set the priorities straight in in terms of what is important to acknowledge and recognize in what our kids do. And there is so much fun stuff we can do as parents to encourage and nurture the natural creative instincts in our kids. As parents we should proud of the reading and writing and math our kids do – but not at the expense of all the creative things our kids do every day! That’s the stuff they’re in danger of losing as they go through the educational system – and it is those very creative instincts that just may set them apart from others when it counts most in the future!


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