8 ways to encourage creativity in your child

Heidi Miller Lowell is a frequent contributor to the blog. She is a multimedia artist and educator who leads classes and workshops for all ages and summer camps for kids. Learn more about Heidi’s offerings here.

Prospective employers list creativity as the most sought-after quality in potential employees today. Our education system struggles mightily to design a curriculum that promotes creative thinking. Research shows that children’s brains are growing differently than ever before because of a lack of unstructured play and an overabundance of pre-made entertainment.

How do we promote creativity in our children? Here are my favorite eight tips and sources for supporting your child creatively.

1. Modeling is everything. Children learn by example. If you don’t feel confident, get some help online. There are tons of great e-classes teaching tinkering, sketching, painting, design, and writing for folks who are busy. If you want your children to be creative, do creative activities in their presence and with them.

2. Provide a creative provocation for your child. The provocation is a concept used in the Reggio Emilia method of education. The blog The Artful Parent has some great ideas for setting up provocations.

3. The book Young at Art by Susan Striker focuses on the creative development of children from birth through preschool. It talks about strategies for keeping creativity at the forefront of your daily life when you have small children. Some of the strategies would work great in a home with older kids too.

4. Engaging Learners through Choice-Based Learning by Katherine M. Douglas is an essential resource for all art teachers, homeschool families, and anyone interested in progressive education. This book emphasizes that even young artists need to be treated like real artists. This means giving students a say in what and HOW they make things. Douglas details setting up art stations and offers tips on teaching with a variety of media.

5. After you read the book above, you may want to stop and visit Austin Creative Reuse in The Linc. This center is stocked full of recycled materials that can be used for a bevy of art projects. The prices are great, and you can leave knowing that you are actually helping take care of our environment!

6. The book Creating Pathways to Literacy through Art by Beth Olshanky is also a game changer. It promotes creativity and literacy and comes with a DVD that models some of the lessons.

7. Look at any camps, schools, and extracurricular activities you’re considering for your child to see if their focus is on product or process. Any school that display 15 of the exact same penguin pictures in a display might be focused more on making pretty pieces of art for parents to see than on offering kids a valuable learning experience. Process-based art gives kids a chance to find their own creative voices rather than giving them step-by-step directions. Kids make mistakes. They work on finding solutions. Mistakes are the best teachers.

8. Come join us at Art Camp this summer at Four Seasons Community School! You can find out more at my website, heidimillerlowell.com.

Heidi Miller Lowell