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November Question of the Month: How can I encourage my child to be more creative?

11/19/2020 11:06 AM | Anonymous member

How Can I Encourage My Child to Be Creative?

Although emphasis is often placed on academic achievement for advanced learners, it is crucial that parents and educators recognize and nurture creativity in our children.

Last week, the National Association for Gifted Children’s (“NAGC”)  67th National Convention Reimagined!featured presenters who shared some valuable insights about nurturing creativity. Scott Ross, a pioneer in digital media and Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Digital Domain, Inc., presented the opening Keynote, “Will the Real Creative Person Please Stand Up?” During his talk, he shared his career experiences and how learning to help and collaborate with talented people with differing skills and personalities challenged his own stereotypes of creativity. He emphasized the importance of teaching children with gifts and talents how to interact and share their ideas with others. Also, he pointed out that creativity is not a special gift endowed on a lucky few, but a characteristic that can be encouraged and nurtured.

At another NAGC Conference session, “Imagination + Engineering: Learning to Think Like an Imagineer,” Brian Housand and Angela M. Housand discussed strategies used by Disney “Imagineers” to create the “magic” that visitors experience in Disney World. The Housands suggested applying Sandra Kaplan’s “Think Like a Disciplinarian” approach to encourage children to view activities as professionals do in the field. For young “imagineers,” this means “thinking inside the box” (rather than “outside the box”) just as professional Disney imagineers do when they design rides in limited spaces. Within constraints, children are encouraged to generate many ideas -- even those that are “impossible,” and build upon the creative ideas of others. During this process, children are assigned roles of “the dreamer,” “the realist,” and “the spoiler.” “Dreamers” can generate ideas safely and with exuberance because the challenges to these ideas are reserved for the “realists” and the “spoilers.” These roles help to prevent children with a propensity toward self-judgment from evaluating and dismissing creative solutions before giving them a chance to develop. Just imagine how a child’s new and inventive ideas can flow when they are not shut down as they emerge! 

The NAGC TIP Sheet, “Nurturing Creativity,” provides several practical ways that parents and educators can encourage children to be creative (link included below), and an excerpt from this TIP sheet includes the following suggestions:

  • Build your home environment around your family's interests and strengths. Provide stimulating work spaces, supplies, displays, and tools. Include arts materials as well as books, prints, recordings, instruments, and children’s biographies. 

  • Allow your child to see you make mistakes, try a different approach, and take risks. Show your curiosity and joy; share your humor. 

  • Do projects with your children that engage their whole selves: touching, feeling, imagining, listening, sensing, composing, combining, writing, improvising, and inventing. 

  • Create open time in your child’s day for creative exploration. Expose your child to as many different areas/fields as possible. 

  • Include the natural world as a source for exploration and learning―nature integrates all the senses.

As parents and educators, it can be a challenge to keep open time in a child’s daily schedule for play and exploration. However, during these days of remote learning, we may find more opportunity for children to engage in their individual, creative pursuits. With nurturing, this “found time” for ideas, inventions, and new discoveries can bring your child joy and become an important part of every day for years to come.

-Patricia Steinmeyer, Executive Director, IAGC


Dr. Brian Housand’s Blog: Want to Be More Creative? Try Thinking Like a Kid

Imagineering in a Box - Khan Academy

NAGC TIP Sheet Nurturing Creativity

Davidson Institute: Parenting the Creative Child

NAGC Webpage: Nurturing Creativity


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