Q&A: Cultivating Creativity in Your Kids

Question: What are some ways you try to cultivate creativity within your kiddos? And what have they taught you about creativity? 

 

It has been my experience that much of my parenting has been birthed from the tedious & often messy practice of ‘trial & error’. I very rarely lay out (and follow) a prescribed strategy or bulleted list of brilliant motherhood ideas. Blindly stumbling upon ideas that bring peace, fun & memories has more been my style.

 In short… I pray for wisdom.

I attempt to walk in that wisdom.

I then blindly jump off a motherhood cliff

.

.

.

.

.

…hoping to find either wings from Heaven that will carry me upward towards motherly bliss or a parachute of mercy slowly encouraging me to jump…

One.

More.

Time.

 

{I ask my kids for forgiveness A LOT!}

 

With that said, I will try to somehow create a format in which one can begin to understand our family’s intentional cultivation of creativity. Here we go…

 

Create Atmosphere 

Although ‘cultivating creativity’ hasn’t necessarily been a calculated part of our parenting, setting the atmosphere of our home has always been something we have been extremely intentional about. Setting the atmosphere of one’s home is basically a fancy way of saying ‘setting the tone, feeling, or mood’ of the home. This can be done in a myriad of ways.

 

Here are a few things that we do in order to create an atmosphere that helps foster creativity within our kids:

 

  • Listen to music: Music is one of the easiest ways to set an atmosphere for creativity. Very rarely is there a time when we don’t have music playing in the background of our days. Jazz, classical, worship, blues… each genre has a very distinct feel and rhythm which leads to wonderful conversation and helps get those fun creative juices flowing.
  • Tell stories: Whether they are made up stories, stories about family heritage, or silly stories it doesn’t matter…kids love stories.
  • Tell jokes: Emotion plays a huge part in the life of a “creator”. Laughter and joy are two of our favorite emotions to create from so we CHOOSE to laugh a lot.
  • Draw pictures: Some people sketch while other people scratch (as in chicken scratch) but it doesn’t matter because COLOR is beautiful and important. Grab those colored pencils or oil pastels and start doodling.
  • Talk, talk, talk: I can’t emphasize the absolute importance of talk! Not just any talk. No. Talk about BEAUTY. Talk about beauty in music. Talk about beauty in nature. Talk about beauty in words (books, stories, poetry). Talk even about the beauty found in emotions. Most children naturally see beauty in everything so by talking about it you will find an instant connecting point for creativity… just begin the conversation.

 

Create Space: 

Every creator needs space. Whether creating art, music or poetry – space is needed. As a family we have learned to “create space” in our home as well as in our lives.

 

In our home:

Much to my dismay I have come to find that I am NOT an “art project” or Pinterest parent. For the longest time I wanted to be ‘that mom’. You know, the one that plans weeks in advance for the amazing melted crayon on canvas art project thingy…but… I’m. Just. Not. Her. I don’t enjoy the planning. I don’t enjoy all of the detailed directions. And I utterly LOATHE the clean-up process. So in order to allow my children the freedom to dream, create and explore with different mediums in art, we created a messy art station OUTSIDE. It is glorious! They are in nature. They are messy. They can even sing at the top of their lungs as they paint or make pottery…and I get to hose it all down when they are done. GLORY!!!

(If you don’t live in Southern California, my Chicago born man tells me that the basement or garage work well too.)

 

In our lives:

Whether adult or child, we all have a desired time of the day and method for creating. My poet/writer/night owl of a child loves to stay up late and write unto her little heart’s content. While my early riser/musician/artist boy enjoys waking up with the birds to begin sketching and listening to the music of his choice. Thankfully, our lifestyle allows for each of their creativity styles. (We homeschool which allows a little more grace in our schedule.) Thankfully a family doesn’t have to move to an abandoned cabin in the mountains in order to find this creative rhythm – the point is simply to create space – create TIME in your busy schedule in order to dream and create.

 

Trust me with this one…MAKE SPACE to create…it is important for the soul.

 

Create Tools 

Most people seem to understand the old adage “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and realize that true sustainable success takes time. However, we often forget that in order to build “Rome” it also takes tools and skilled laborers. An important part of Cultivating Creativity is helping our children gain and learn the creative techniques they will need to be successful. (Because let’s be honest we all enjoy painting, writing, and cooking when we actually know what we are doing and have the right tools.) This aspect of creativity intimidated me for years until I realized how much fun it was to learn alongside my kids. You don’t have to know how to paint – just grab a paint brush and your computer. (Yes, your computer.) YouTube is one of the best tools of our time for helping to cultivate creativity. There are hundreds of step-by-step instruction videos for creating just about ANYTHING! That’s it. You’re on your way to Rembrandt success already!

 

(*NOTE: Parents might want to review the videos prior to watching them with your children and I always suggest that no child browse or search YouTube without parental supervision.)

 

Create Foundation  

I have a feeling that it would be relatively difficult to write a story set in rural Italy during the year 1934 if one has never read a book, looked at a map, seen pictures of the vast Italian landscape or researched the timeline of history. Too often we expect our children (or even ourselves) to be “creative” without having developed a foundation for imagination first. How do we do this? Our family has found that one of the best ways to develop that firm foundation for imagination is through books. Lots and lots of books! We read everything from classic children’s stories to historical biographies. We read (and sometimes even act out) poetry and artistic plays. We listen to every kind of music under the sun and look at a vast number of “coffee table” picture books. We even enjoy looking at maps and timelines. (The creative historians will understand that one.)

 

The key is to pour the vibrant colors of life and history into the deep wells of our children so that when the time is right they will have the vast blue waters of time to drink from. Some of the most successful business people I know are still pulling from the creative lessons that they learned as a child in order to solve complex, real-world problems. If nothing else, imagine all of the beautiful memories you will have created with your children from having read aloud to them before bed every night.

 

(*Note: Even my 11-yr old son and husband enjoy books being read aloud so don’t discount this for your older children & family members. Maybe even have them pick a book and read aloud to the family some of the time.)

 

 

Create Purpose 

Finally we get to purpose. The big question of “Why create?” This is where I’d challenge you to begin an internal journey towards finding your why…your purpose for creating. Some have found that creativity is a way to relieve stress while others have found it to be a connecting point for their family. Still others find it to be one of the strongest connecting points with their Creator God and children, and some just find it to be fun. Whatever your purpose for cultivating creativity within your kids and family don’t forget to lay aside expectations and just enjoy the process.

 

At the end of the day, our children most-likely will not become the next Claude Monet, Wolfgang A. Mozart or Dr. Seuss but the cultivation of their creative soul will help to nourish them into the type of adult that can truly appreciate such magnificent things. They will have a value for beauty (instead of simply routine) and in turn know how to let go of the adult “rat race” and really – no REALLY, enjoy the unique splendor of this life.

 

And isn’t that what we all desire for our children?  

 

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