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Bringing Creativity to Life in Your Children

Does socialization kill creativity? Robert Epstein of the University of California, San Diego, feels that it does. "When children are very young, they all express creativity, but by the end of the first grade, very few do so. This is because of socialization. They learn in school to stay on task and to stop daydreaming and asking silly questions. As a result, the expression of new ideas is largely shut down. We end up leaving creative expression to the misfits -- the people who can't be socialized. It's a tragedy." (See the complete article here.)

Creativity expert, Sir Ken Robinson, suggests that the education system should be completely revamped to nurture creativity. He feels that the current system actually educates "people out of their creativity." In Sir Robinson's speech, Do Schools Kill Creativity?, he says that children grow up to be frightened of making a mistake by the constant focus on getting the correct answer. You must be prepared to be wrong in order to be creative.

What sort of activities kill creativity?

  • Lengthy writing assignments at young ages
  • Telling children that what they have colored is incorrect. "Pilgrims wore BLACK hats, not brown ones!"
  • Criticizing artwork. "That doesn't look like a horse."
  • Step-by-step instructions. "Draw a flower with 6 petals."
  • Adults butting in when children's creative juices are flowing.
  • Telling the child he will be graded on the outcome of a project. He'll want to do what the teacher wants so he can get a good grade.

Encouraging Creativity

Here are some ideas from's message board participants:

SoCalPam: Help the kids create new ideas by focusing on what THEY are interested in. Most of the time in school I was bored by assignments that didn't really have any relevance to my life. With my kids I find ways to incorporate what interests them and then lead them into what I want them to know.

Allie: What encourages it is time to think, a wide range of supplies, round table brainstorming, and a non-judgemental atmosphere. Sometimes kids are very creative, but they think others might think their ideas are stupid. So specific praise and encouragement might help. Like, don't say "that's a GORGEOUS flower", say " I love that you put the leaves on top and made the petals all different sizes."

Denise in Ingleside: Get the kids to put their own ideas in a hat. Choose one of their ideas to work on each week.

TN Lizzie: Ask teens for Dr. Seuss answers. Since we've got the time, All answers must rhyme. Goofy answers are good, But answer you should!

Sis: Open with a brain teaser.

Briva: No right/wrong way attitude, just different, creative.

Scott: Speeches -- Someone brought in a box full of objects. The assigned student would blindly pull an object out of the box, or would be handed an object. His task was to describe what the object was for... BUT he could not describe the real use for the object. He had to invent an almost plausible alternate use. A pair of scissors might become a tool for poking holes in pie crusts (adjustable, depending on the size of the pie). A stapler might become a nut cracker (The spring insures that the nut meat isn't crushed when the shell is cracked). The potato peeler is used to shave callouses from the heels of your feet.

TN Lizzie: The Treasure Box
Bring the TB in quietly, and only open it once a day. (This could be a great way to start or end a meeting!)
A. Put several unrelated objects in there, and give the group the assignment of building something that uses every piece. (Something like an empty matchbox could be used as one or two pieces!)
B. Pick one object. As a group (or as individuals), think of ten uses for it that have nothing to do with the purpose everyone would think of first. (You write with a pencil. OK, what else could you do with it?) Record all the answers.
- Change out the objects, and the exercises... Keep 'em guessing where you're headed!
In the beginning of class, have several objects sitting out. As discipline is required, remove a piece.


Right Brain vs. Left Brain Creativity Test

Thinking Outside the Box an exercise in thought

Don't Touch Me team building game

Exercises for Enhancing Creativity

Nine Ways to Think Outside the Box Tips to encourage creative thinking