Encouraging Creativity in Children

I once read a study (sorry I couldn’t find the link) that had 2 groups of early elementary children. One group was put in a classroom with a table full of art supplies in the center. No instruction or encouragement was given regarding the supplies.

The other group was shown the supplies and a teacher was posted nearby to encourage students to use the supplies and commend them on their creations.

Guess which group used the supplies more readily, more enthusiastically, and more creatively?

The group that was not monitored or encouraged.

The conclusion of the study was that when children fear being judged, they will not venture to be creative.

Have you ever been to craft time at your local library and seen that one mom who insists that her child’s pumpkin be colored just so? and the hat be placed on the scarecrow at just the right angle?

I always think of the 2 groups of children when I encounter that mom. I wonder if she realizes she is stifling her child’s creativity and I wonder what that child might come up with without her  well-meaning, but misguided encouragement.

Here are a few samples of the things my children came up with completely on their own, during their free time in the last week or two.

My 10 year old apparently felt like Barbie and her friends weren’t dressed modestly, so she gave them some new clothes.

Mind you, I never said, “Here is some yarn. What can you make from it?” She simply saw a need and made use of available supplies.

Here is my 5 year old “listening to Thriller on her iPod”. She came up with this completely on her own.

Here is the 1 year old “helping” to fold clothes.

“Look, Mommy! It’s a hat!” (Yes, I know she’s still messy from lunch. That’s how creative types roll.)

Creativity starts young.

Don’t stifle it.

How do your children express their creativity?

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Comments

  1. I just have to learn to get over the mess and fear of destruction of all I work so hard to keep in order…
    Otherwise, I’m so encouraged to read this, particularly since I have nary a creative/crafty bone in my body. My kids come up with the best creations, no thanks to me!!!

  2. Ditto to what j.e.s. said. I follow recipes and patterns, but I do not create on my own. My children, however, use the crayons, markers, and other supplies on the shelf daily. I love it.

  3. I love the Ipod! So awesome :)

  4. I’m so thankful my parents just let me explore creative stuff. I hadn’t heard of that study, but that makes sense to me! Thanks for sharing.

    ~Luke

  5. Your baby is too cute! :)

  6. Interesting read. I only give direction or encouragment if I have a set result I am looking for with a purpose beyond the craft and beyond my own appreciation. Otherwise our rule is ask first if you can use something. My kids use tissue paper from gifts to make barbie doll clothes!
    My oldest has learned to crochet and spool knit, and it pains her to ask for help or to accept advise to make a project go more smoothly or easier, she won’t follow a pattern, and all I can say is the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Being a strong willed person raising a strong willed child has taught me the humbling lesson of stepping back and loosing up.
    Glad to know I am on the right track.

  7. Yesterday, while I was cooking in the kitchen, I gave both of my boys a spatula and a spoon. The next thing I knew my oldest was playing baseball with an imaginary ball. He’d throw it up, hit it, drop the bat (spatula), run and jump up and catch it. Over and over and over again. :-)

    Such fun memories!

  8. For the past weekend, my hubby and older 5 kids were at a missions conference and I stayed home with our 2yo and 4yo. (I have the severe swelling, 9 months pregnant excuse)

    Anyway, it was very interesting to see how my little ones just do not have the same imaginative, creative play that their older siblings did at this age. Note: I do not entertain the kids with lots of TV and computer, so that’s not the issue. However, I did realize that the past several months I’ve been inconsistent with Alone Time.

    That 15-45 minute period of time when they’re in a room alone with happy music and plenty of toys is invaluable for homeschooling parents, but it also really encourages independent, creative play. Obviously this extends to a wide variety of benefits and in a big family it’s so important for them to have this.

    So this weekend taught me an important lesson and one I need to get back into consistently!

    Btw, I’m completely non-artistic, but have always had plenty of craft/art items around that my kids have free rein on – and guess what? Several of my kids have become very artistic and it’s fun to see that skill and love w/o any “encouragement” on my part!

  9. Heather Mason says:

    LOVE THIS! I don’t tell my children what craft we’re making and go through it step by step with them. I provide them with a bunch of art books, a roomful of raw materials, and they go to town. They are amazingly creative. Very encouraging read- thanks, Connie!

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  1. [...] So, why do adults tend to dismiss the importance of this creativity ?  Read this post -”Encouraging Creativity In Children” – If you ask me, adults have a lot to learn when it comes to being [...]

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