10 Tips for Creating a Fertile Environment for Kids’ Creativity and Growth

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TEN TIPS FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS

There’s a common misconception that the best way to encourage children’s creativity is simply to get out of the way and let them be creative. Although it’s certainly true that children are naturally curious and inquisitive, they need support to develop their creative capacities and reach their full creative potential.

Supporting children’s development is always a balancing act: how much structure, how much freedom; when to step in, when to step back; when to show, when to tell, when to ask, when to listen.

In putting together this section, I decided to combine tips for parents and teachers, because I think the core issues for cultivating creativity are the same, whether you’re in the home or in the classroom. The key challenge is not how to “teach creativity” to children, but rather how to create a fertile environment in which their creativity will take root, grow, and flourish.

I’m organizing this section around the five components of the Creative Learning Spiral: imagine, create, play, share, and reflect. I propose strategies for helping children imagine what they want to do, create projects through playing with tools and materials, share ideas and creations with others, and reflect on their experiences.

For each of the five components, I’ll suggest two tips. That’s a total of 10 tips. Of course, these 10 tips are just a very small subset of all of the things you might ask and do to cultivate children’s creativity. View them as a representative sample, and come up with more of your own.

1. IMAGINE : SHOW EXAMPLES TO SPARK IDEAS

A blank page, a blank canvas, and a blank screen can be intimidating. A collection of examples can help spark the imagination. When we run Scratch workshops, we always start by showing sample projects—to give a sense of what’s possible (inspirational projects) and to provide ideas on how to get started (starter projects). We show a diverse range of projects, in hopes of connecting with the interests and passions of workshop participants. Of course, there’s a risk that children will simply mimic or copy the examples that they see. That’s OK as a start, but only as a start. Encourage them to change or modify the examples. Suggest that they insert their own voice or add their own personal touch. What might they do differently? How can they add their own style, connect to their own interests? How can they make it their own?

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