First, let’s talk about what creativity is and isn’t. It IS the forming and implementation of original thoughts and ideas. Creativity IS NOT about being a great artist or an amazing chef, although chances are those people are using their creativity on a daily basis. According to Robert S. Root-Bernstein & Michele Root-Bernstein, co-authors of Sparks of Genius; The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People, “creativity isn’t born, it’s cultivated.” The other good news is that you can’t use up creativity! It’s like a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Here are some tips for including creativity in your child’s day (and yours): Take a walk outside and play “I Spy” for different colors and shapes. Steve Jobs felt that creativity was just “connecting things”. Helping your kids notice things around them leads to more creativity. Looking for patterns is a great activity. On your walk, maybe you look for some common patterns found in nature like spirals, branching trees, or stripes. Staying curious is a great way to see connections between things that others don’t see. Take a doodle break. Post-it notes offer a different kind of structure because of their size limitations. It’s fun & easy to draw self-portraits on post-its or to see how many different emotions your kids can draw. Take short breaks from schoolwork and other sedentary tasks to dance & sing! You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to get creative juices flowing when you get your bodies moving and tap into the creative power of music. Music can easily conjure emotions and emotions can spark passion and creativity. Encourage cooperative projects where two or more people take turns working on the same drawing, or making up different parts of a story or song. When kids work together with other kids or with you, they can experience a kind of synergy that doesn’t happen alone. This video shows an easy way to engage in cooperative doodling with your child. Collaboration also helps them let go of the outcome a little bit, and focus more on the process. Give your kids a problem to solve. Offer supplies and support without giving them too much help solving the actual problem. This could be building something like a marble run out of boxes, toilet paper rolls, and tape; building a city out of boxes; or transforming a large box into a spaceship. Maybe your kids are interested in fashion! You could purchase a few secondhand t-shirts at a thrift store and give them free rein to modify them using scissors and fabric glue. Then have your own fashion show. Promote mistakes as something good! Embracing creativity means that if you aren’t making any mistakes you aren’t risking and trying new ideas! As Sir Ken Robinson said, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” Practice cultivating curiosity with your kids: What if several times per day you threw out “I wonder” questions to your kids and didn’t answer them yourself? For instance, “I wonder, how are magnets related to electricity?” “I wonder why the sky is that color?” I wonder how many shades of green we could find in that forest?” You could ask your kids what kinds of things they’re curious about and help them keep a list or journal of things they’d like to investigate. Brainstorm with your kids. Brainstorming on a regular basis is a great way to get creative juices flowing. It can work for anything from what to make for dinner to how to re-arrange a bedroom, or how to design cardboard furniture for stuffed animals. Everyone takes turns contributing ideas with the caveat that there are no bad ideas, the more far-fetched the better, until everyone has totally run out of ideas. If you have one child and want more people to be involved, this is a great activity to do over Zoom as long as everyone takes turns and can pass if they want to. Appoint someone to be the scribe and take notes, and then narrow down the ideas at the very end by voting. Creativity can happen when you are taking a short art break during a day filled with other school work or when you want to encourage kids to do something that doesn’t involve a screen, but at least at first, it needs to be infused on purpose. Ideally, after a while you’ll get to the point where it becomes second nature to weave it into almost everything you do with your kids. Certainly there are times where time or circumstances don’t permit a lot of creative thinking. Nurturing children’s creativity is a balance of supporting them with structure and giving them a freedom within the structure, always keeping our own adult expectations in check. Whether they are creating visual artwork, music, poems, marble runs, or Lego structures, try to focus on the process more than the end product by encouraging and praising risk-taking, experimentation, focus, and even mistakes! For additional resources, read our blog posts on how to focus on the process vs the product and how to talk to your child about her artwork. And is you haven’t already, consider subscribing to our monthly art boxes!