How to Raise Your Child’s Creativity Quotient

*Note: Parts of the following article are reprinted with changes from an article I published in July. I am hoping it will serve as a catalyst to get us praying, pondering, and planning about ways to help our students to be creative, think-outside-the-box
learners. I welcome your wisdom and insights on the subject!

*Note: Parts of the following article are reprinted with changes from an article I published in July. I am hoping it will serve as a catalyst to get us praying, pondering, and planning about ways to help our students to be creative, think-outside-the-box
learners. I welcome your wisdom and insights on the subject!

With the passing of Steve Jobs last week, I have been reflecting upon the concept of creativity, genius, and education.

We know Steve Jobs was a creative genius. And sadly, we know that his education did little to cultivate or encourage this creative thinking in him.

So, that got me to thinking about what we can do in the Sunday school classroom to keep that creativity quotient alive in our students.

Do you ever dream of having a more creative child or being more creative in your teaching? What can you do to enhance creativity in your child and yourself? Let's look at some myths and realities about creativity.

Myth #1: Creativity is Only for Artists or Musicians and People Who Think with the Right-side of the Brains

One popular misunderstanding is that creativity is something that only artists or musicians possess. The reality is that computer scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and, of course, skilled educators display equal levels of creativity in their respective fields.

The notion that this creative ability would only be available to one group is, of course, a ridiculous fallacy if you stop to think about it. All you need to do is look at the creative energy required to start a successful business, invent a new technology, manage a busy family's schedule, or successfully teach a group of energetic third graders!

Part of the reason for this misconception is that people think that "creative thinking" can only occur on the right-side, more global, creative part of the brain- and never on the left side of the brain, which produces more logical and linear thinking processes.  

The reality is that true creative thinking involves interplay between the two hemispheres. Creative thinkers use the facts they possess and try to rearrange them in new ways. Then they evaluate their solutions and continue this dialogue between the two sides of their brain. But at no point does the dialogue become a monologue. It is true give-and-take going on throughout the process.

Myth #2: Teaching Creativity Itself Is Not Possible

This myth is often born from the idea that since all children cannot become artists or future inventors that a certain level of creativity is something they either have or don't have at birth. In other words, it is finite, and cannot be taught.

The reality is that creativity is not simply innate. Perhaps creativity should be further defined as the ability to create original and usefulideas.

Seen in this way, creativity is something that can be taught, as anyone can improve in this area. Does that mean that anyone can become the next Steve Jobs, Beethoven, or Bill Gates? No. Some things are gifts. But just like any skill, it can be developed, so that the individual can increase their level of creative expression and use.

For years, people thought that teaching creativity meant doing bizarre exercises, such as answering, "What does it feel like to be the color blue?" Such questions have little to do with actual creativity, which is the use of applying knowledge in new ways.
This has many important implications for how we teach children.

The most important implication is that we should not merely have the students regurgitate information back to us or try to cram them full of facts. Instead, we need to find creative ways to get them involved with the information we want them to learn.

A group of teachers at the National Inventors Hall of Fame School in Akron, Ohio, led their fifth grade students in an experiential, hands-on learning exercise to teach them about sound. They began by posing a problem to their students: the library lets in too much sound, so how can we fix this?

The students were put into groups and eventually had to present their solutions to their teachers, parents, and Jim West, the inventor of the electric microphone.

It is significant to note what the students did while coming up with a creative solution. First, they had to gather information about how sound travels, what substances worked as sound barriers, and how these should be arranged.

Then students had to evaluate different solutions for criteria such as aesthetics, cost, and feasibility. Finally, they presented their findings, coming up with many collaborative solutions.

Best of all, the students enjoyed themselves – while learning! And this is not at a private or charter school but a public school with many low-income families. Yet the school is already producing top scores in three areas of its state-wide exams.

It is exciting to note that this teaching strategy did not sacrifice creative thought or the actual teaching of information, both were done in conjunction with the other. This is, in essence, true creativity.

The point is not as much about finding the solution to the sound issue in the library as it is about unleashing the creative thinking processes in the students. As any good teacher knows, the best teaching occurs when students are discovering answers for their own. That is the essence of creative thinking as well as great teaching: one does not compromise the other but rather, they work in conjunction with the other.

Too often, Sunday school teaching incorrectly gets labeled as less important than ‘real school’ and therefore some teachers give it less time. It’s volunteer, after all.

I think just the opposite should be true. With so much freedom, the teacher should explore different and creative ways to bring lessons to life, knowing that these lessons matter more than any others they will learn!

Myth #3: As a Parent, There is Little I Can Do for My Child's Creative

Again, the most important step is to realize that degrees of creativity are not simply innate and that creative ability is not merely the possession of artists. Too often parents only encourage creative thought when they believe their child already "has it" and typically encourage it through classes in dance, music, or art.

But all children possess creative ability, and this ability can be encouraged and nourished throughout life.

When children are young, they are naturally curious and always asking, "Why?" Sometimes parents may get weary of answering these questions and either discourage their children's inquiry or just give them the answers so they will stop asking. Sadly, this slows down the process of creativity in some children.

Good parenting would be to encourage further exploration, to ask questions in return that produce new curiosity. This doesn't have to occur in-depth with every single question asked, but as a general approach, the idea here is that we ought to embrace and encourage these questions, or else run the risk of their energetic curiosity becoming dead by fourth grade.

Another help for parents is to realize that time with video games and television can play a harmful role. The solution is not to ban them, but to understand that roughly for every hour of television watched, children participate in 10% less creative outlets, such as music lessons.

It is interesting to note that the home environment contributes largely to the level of creative development in the child. One study found that highly creative adults tended to grow up in homes that had a balance of unique expression balanced with structure and stability. These kids were encouraged to become their own people, to ask questions and try new things, yet the parents also provided the predictability and boundaries children crave in order to feel safe. Without rules, children become anxious in a chaotic environment. It was in this middle ground between stability and creative expression that children developed best.

Finally, role-play is another major outlet for creativity. As has often been said before, play is the work of the child. It is in play that they mimic adults, figure out the rules of society in getting along with one another, and begin expressing their individual personalities.

This is one of the reasons why young children should not be overburdened with worksheets and over-structured programs. Instead, they need to be allowed to play freely and supervised by an adult who can help them find creative avenues in which to play and learn as they simply enjoy being a child.

The subject of creativity is vast. Creativity reflects the nature of God and it is infinite. The Bible says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your words are wonderful, I know that full well." (Psalm 139:13-14)

While it is a gift from God, it can be learned, taught, nurtured, encouraged, and developed in children. How exciting to know this as parents and teachers!

Summary and practical application suggestions:

1.    Help children to see God's infinite creativity as revealed in His creation. If you teach Sunday school or ever plan to, find new ways to bring the lessons to life.

2.    Creativity isn't just for artists and musicians; it shows up in myriads of ways. As parents, how can you encourage creativity in your child?

3.    True creativity employs the right (creative, global) part of the brain along with the more analytic, linear left part of the brain. As teachers, how can you encourage this exchange in your teaching of the different subjects?

4.    What are some easy you can engage children and students to think more creatively to solve problems? To come up with creative solutions? How about creative writing and other means of communication? Help them  to 'think outside the box.

5.    As parents, when your child incessantly asks, "Why?", what are ways you can turn this around to get your child to think more creatively?

6.    Why do you think creativity is best established when there is a balance of structure and open-ended opportunities in a home or school?

7.    For today, take a simple task that you have always done a certain way and do it in a completely different way. Start unleashing some of that creativity and see what happens. I hope you will enjoy the process!

One Comment

  • Keeley

    How to Raise Your Child’s Creativity Quotient | Bible.org

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