Creativity is a vital skill students need to be successful in school and life. It helps with problem-solving, contributes to our satisfaction in life, and gives us a sense of purpose. Being creative helps us relax and brings enjoyment to our lives.
Kids today have fewer opportunities to develop creativity than ever before. Before the age of screentime, children spent most of their time outside; playing with toys and friends. Now children spend far more time watching TV or Youtube videos, playing video games, or texting. These activities don’t give children as many chances to develop their creativity.
Despair not. Creativity, while it is challenging to teach explicitly, can be fostered in your students. Check out these ways to help your students develop their creativity.
Imagination: Encourage imagination and out of the box thinking in your students. Teach students to visualize. Encourage students to think beyond apparent answers and to ask the question ‘What if…?’
Play: Kids need to play; it is not a mere luxury.
Not just games with rules, but kids need long, unstructured blocks of time to play.
Sadly, many kids may not know how to play independently, so it is essential that we give them opportunities to play and guide them when they need it. Pretend play is one of the best ways for kids to develop their creativity. Building with blocks or Legos encourages creativity as well. Encourage outdoor play. You can even have students make up their own games.
The Struggle is Real: It’s important to let kids struggle and figure it out on their own. Don’t always give kids a set of instructions to figure out. Give them a project and let them figure out a way to complete it on their own. It may not be as pretty or perfect as if an adult feeds them step by step instructions, but then, it isn’t creative either.
Write, Write, Write: Give students each a small journal for jotting down their ideas. Creativity strikes at any moment, but sometimes it is fleeting. Writing down, or drawing, thoughts can help retain them and help kids pay attention to their thinking, encouraging further creativity. Students can take these journals with them anywhere. If writing isn’t your students’ specialty, encourage them to draw sketches or use a device to save voice recordings.
What’s Your Interest?: Help students find their interests. Incorporate multiple disciplines in your classroom: music, drama, art, etc. so that students can discover new interests. When we are involved in things we enjoy, our creativity blossoms. The arts, in particular, lend themselves to creative expression.
Study the Great Creatives: Kids need creative role models to look up to. When they learn about creative people, they believe that anything is possible. Students see others who have used their creative skills to be successful, especially those who have overcome hardships or disabilities, which encourages further creative thinking. Creative heroes, famous artists, scientists, inventors, and musicians are both interesting for students to learn about and inspiring.
Meditation and Mindfulness: According to Ted-Ed blog:
“Science tells us that mindfulness meditation helps the brain. In the realm of creativity, it can boost a student’s ability to come up with imaginative solutions to a problem.”
YouTube has short videos that help students and teachers learn the art of meditation and mindfulness.
Work Together: Working in groups is another great way to encourage creativity. Students can feed off each other. The concept of synergy, when a group has its own energy, can fuel further creativity. Students gain ideas from each other and come up with something together they could never have apart.
Make it Real: Give students concrete motivation to be creative by making connections to real life. Help them research professions that use creativity and why it is crucial for them, or ways they can use it in their own lives now. When they use their creativity, praise it in specific ways. Show students how creativity helps you in your job (teachers are always creative!). Show them a problem you have solved in the classroom by being creative.
Creativity isn’t something that students learn overnight, but it is something you can help students develop. Make your classroom a creativity workshop by giving students opportunities to think for themselves and solve problems. They will use this skill for the rest of their lives.
By: Amy Curletto
Amy has been teaching for 12 years in grades K-2. She has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and also has endorsements in reading and ESL. Besides education, her other passion is writing and she has always dreamed of being a writer. She lives in Utah with her husband, her 3 daughters, and her miniature schnauzer. She enjoys reading, knitting, and camping.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.
Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.