The jury is out on whether creativity is an inborn talent or a skill that can be taught and eventually mastered, with countless studies supporting both sides of the argument.
Parents nonetheless can develop some level of creative thinking abilities in young children with a few simple actions. Creative thinking abilities will translate into creative writing abilities in the long term.
1. Encourage the acquisition of knowledge. A child that knows a lot of facts and trivia about the world around him/her will be able to make reference to that information when thinking and writing. This allows the child to think of more “out-of-the-box” stories as compared to his/her peers.
How? Parents can teach a child a couple of related new words from the dictionary, then ask the child to use the words while writing a story.
2. Encourage children to try new ideas. Parents must create a safe environment for children to test and try out new ideas in writing. Children must be encouraged to try different approaches to writing prose; using different perspectives and writing styles. Children must be encouraged to try using new vocabulary that they may be unfamiliar with using. Parents should gently correct mistakes and not reject criticise even outlandish story lines or concepts. Harsh criticism of imaginary stories will cause children to develop a self checking mechanism that will stop them from expressing new ideas in future.
How? Parents can sit down with the child and brainstorm story titles and story lines based on random words picked from a book or dictionary.
3. Encourage children to explore different forms of media. Bring your child to plays, movies, reading sessions, story telling sessions and/or enrol your child for art or music class. However, parents need to clear – the intent is to expose the child to various genres of expression and not to develop mastery in any one, unless the child naturally wants to do so.
How? Check out your local library or theatre, as they may have a schedule of interesting child friendly events. There are also many online courses that parents can sign up for and learn from together with their children, all from the comfort of home.
4. Allow children to disagree. Parents need to watch the body language and facial expressions of their children and identify instances where children may have different options. Children may feel a sense of apprehension on voicing these opinions out. Parents should encourage children to speak out and articulate their thoughts.
How? Parents need to encourage their children by using phrases such as ” Do you think I am right?”, “What would you do if you were me?” or “Can you think of a better solution?”.
5. Reduce television or other screen time. Research has shown that children generally do not learn from video recordings of teachers teaching languages (or anything for that matter), regardless of how fun and engaging the recorded lesson might be. Aside from any phrases that the child may pick up from catchy jingles and songs, the learning value from pure screen time is insignificant. Parents can use tablets and television to teach and in fact it is recommended to do so, but depending on the tablet or television to do the teaching will dull the child’s creative responses.
How? It may be hard to wean children off their gadgets and unreasonable to ban gadgets altogether. Limiting access to a device charger is one means to reduce screen time as children will need to “ration battery life” over a few days. Children also learn from the example set by parents. If the televisions is always on at home or if the adults at home are always looking at their mobile devices this will become the social norm for the children, so parents need to set an example!
Brought to you by the KidsEnglishCollege™ Editorial Team.
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