With the school year starting, children across Aoteaora are gearing up for a return to routine, discipline and days of structured learning. All that creativity nurtured during the carefree summer months should be built on during term time; it’s not only good for your child’s wellbeing, it’s also one of the most important attributes for future workplace success according to the World Economic Forum.
Keeping creativity up after the holidays finish is remarkably simple. Capital E thinks a daily dose of creativity is as important as healthy eating. Here are six ways to bolster your child’s creative side:
Model creativity for your kids
As we understand more about the impact of nurturing playfulness and creative thinking, many teachers and parents are thinking about ways they can bring creativity back into children’s days. It’s the job of caregivers and teachers alike to be creative role models and help children recognise, value and fuel their creative selves. Get playful, be silly and creative with your kids - draw, sing, run around and dance. Not only is it fun to embrace your inner child, it’s also beneficial to your own health and wellbeing.
Get inspired at local festivals and events
There are many free and low-cost events focussed on being creative and exploring different cultures, performances and art. Try to find inspiration in our city by taking opportunities when they arise - whether that’s in the form of theatre, books or events. Some of the events happening over the next few months in Wellington alone are the Capital E National Arts Festival, a celebration of theatre and performance specifically made for children, the Newtown Festival, a family-oriented public celebration in the heart of Newtown, and CubaDupa, the annual celebration of extraordinary arts and culture in downtown Wellington.
Let them ask why
Children are curious creatures often asking why about anything and everything. Let them! It’s a positive thing for children to be questioning the norm and having productive conversations about why things are the way they are. This encourages them to think about whatever it is they are doing, watching, participating in or consuming more than just passively accepting things as they are.
Embrace (a little) mess
Although this is a hard one for a lot of us, embracing a little mess in our homes will go a long way in granting our kids creative freedom. Letting your kids draw outside the lines and be in control of their own play-time (within reason) helps develop their imagination and stimulates their curiosity. Over the last 50 years there has been a steady decline in children’s unstructured free play time. Play helps the development of skills like physical dexterity; it teaches children about communication and collaboration, and it helps them cultivate creative-thinking skills. So set aside time for playing and pretending, inventing and making.
Discover the creative side of STEM
Creativity doesn’t necessarily mean dancing or drawing, it runs through all aspects of life, extending to science, technology, engineering and maths, also known as STEM subjects. There are after school programmes throughout the country offering STEM Clubs where kids are offered the chance to learn computer coding, solve engineering problems and work on projects with peers who share similar interests.
Embrace the grey area; there isn’t one right answer.
Many traditional education systems prioritises a right/wrong testing system where there is often little room for individual interpretation. By taking more of a flexible approach to everyday life where there isn’t one right answer, you’ll be allowing space for children to figure things out for themselves and discover their true creative selves.
Dr Sarah Rusholme is the Director Children & Young People at Capital E.
She recently spoke to Lynn Freeman on RNZ on the importance of creativity to a child's health and mental well-being - you can listen to the full interview here.