Understand the importance of this skill for the future and see how to stimulate children’s creativity in their daily lives!
Creativity has been considered a skill that is not only desirable but fundamental to deal with the challenges of our century. With technological advances, cultural diversity, and changes in lifestyles, we need to develop early on the ability to create and adapt, to be able to face this scenario of uncertainties and constant changes.
To this end, we, as adults, mothers, fathers, and educators, have the role of creating conditions that provide children with the development of imagination, curiosity, resilience, and flexibility, characteristics closely linked to creativity.
In this article, we will understand how this is possible. First, understanding this deeper skill, and then see tips on how to stimulate children’s creativity in everyday life.
After all, what is creativity?
Often, creativity is seen as an innate gift or talent, belonging to a few people who would have the privilege of being born with it. People say, “I was not born creative.” or “I have no creativity.” Another belief is that creativity would be a skill only of great artists, and therefore, only these people should develop it.
However, scientific advances have brought a new understanding of what creativity is, showing that we must create another point of view about it. Today we know that creativity is not innate talent or restricted to artists, but a competence that can be developed and stimulated in all ages, areas of knowledge, and situations in which we need to solve a problem.
Therefore, creativity is the great potential that human beings have to face new situations, creating new solutions, and adapting to challenges. Everyone has creative potential, but their development will depend on the opportunities, experiences, level of motivation, and stimuli they receive throughout life.
Children’s innate creativity
A NASA study revealed that, up to the age of 5, children are practically creative geniuses. Over time, however, the level of creativity goes down, and only 2% of adults demonstrate this same ability.
According to Swedish researcher Martina Leibovici-Mühlberger, who participated in a Spanish survey called “Buenos Días, Creatividad”, children are born with an incredible ability to learn, think, and creatively interact with the world. She makes a comparison saying that little ones come into the world with “software programs” pre-installed in their brains, and since they are very young they can develop complex skills, such as swimming or speaking other languages. However, as soon as they start to interact with the world, they are affected by the “virus” that delays this development.
The specialist calls viruses habits of our society such as the comparison between children, classification of their achievements, evaluation, criticism, and the feeling of guilt generated. According to her, this set is responsible for the loss of 70% of the innate capacities, which start to fall asleep in the children as they grow up.
How, then, can we avoid this loss of creativity and, on the contrary, stimulate this competence so important for everyone’s future?
How to stimulate creativity in childhood?
The school has always been an environment for the child’s socialization and access to knowledge. However, if in the past the focus was on content transmission, today the school becomes responsible for stimulating a set of essential skills, developing the autonomy and protagonism of students, which allow them to continue learning throughout life. Therefore, formal education should contribute to encouraging children’s creativity.
In addition to the restructuring of the school and teaching, it is also necessary to review the way of life that we impose on children, their relationship with the different spaces they occupy, the way they use their time, and even the types of toys and content with which they have contact.
Below, we list some practical ways to include daily habits that can stimulate creativity, both for children and the rest of the family.
1 – Contact with nature
The research “Buenos Días, Creatividad” carried out in Spain showed that natural environments offer more stimulus to the creative potential of children in artificially constructed playgrounds. This is because organic spaces encourage play in a more diverse and less targeted way. This has led many countries to rethink urban planning, replacing traditional children’s spaces with what they call “natural play spaces”. And even in urban centers where children live in apartments, it is possible to encourage contact with nature by encouraging the cultivation of mini gardens and taking walks in parks.
2 – Playing pretend
Imagination stimulates creativity, influences cognitive development, and contributes mainly to problem-solving. The fantasy world is innate to the child, but the current trend is that they are more restricted to repetitive formulas of narratives used in drawings and films. Therefore, it is important to diversify the references. Inventing stories, presenting folklore tales, diversifying children’s book genres. Also, always encourage an active relationship with make-believe, that is, games that allow the child to experience the world of fantasy freely.
3 – Listening to music
Divergent thinking is when we seek the greatest number of ideas or possible solutions to a problem. This type of thinking is very common in children and is an essential part of creativity. There are several ways to stimulate divergent thinking, one of which is listening to music. In a recent study in the Netherlands, people who listened to happy music while doing divergent thinking tasks demonstrated more creative results than those who were not listening to music.
4 – Move the body
The way we limit the movement of children daily is another threat to creative potential. For example, at school, they are forced to sit at desks for hours during their day. A Stanford study showed that moving the body can have a direct relationship with creativity: among participants challenged to perform various tasks, 81% of people were more creative when walking, on a treadmill or outdoors, than when we’re sitting.
5 – Have free time
Many families, with the best intention of offering the best opportunities to their children, end up occupying a good part of the child’s time with scheduled activities. In addition to the school, the children have an agenda full of language classes, sports, technology, dance, etc. However, they end up having very little free time, and this can impair creativity. Children need to be able to live creative leisure and free play, without restrictions of time and directions from adults. In addition to providing time and space for children to explore the world creatively, this can prevent illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
6 – Express yourself artistically
The arts field is traditionally related to creativity, and although today we know that this skill is linked to any activity in our daily lives, stimulating artistic expression indeed contributes to the development of this competence. The tip is to offer opportunities and resources for the child to explore freely. If she is making a drawing, for example, don’t direct her to use the correct color. The more material she can explore without fear of making mistakes, the greater the creative possibilities.