Allowing our children to have downtime and unstructured play is so important for their development and it is scientifically proven. Have you ever noticed that our brain is always coming up with brilliant ideas when we are not focusing, relaxed and having the time to think?
Schools do usually follow the revised Bloom’s taxonomy to structure the lessons.
The cognitive learning is split into six levels:
‘Creating’ is at the highest-level, and being at the highest level implies that it’s the most complex or demanding cognitive skill.
Creativity is the superpower of your child !
Nowadays we are more aware of the challenges that face humanity: pollution, food crisis, pesticides, OGM, diseases and many more in multiple industries…. and how we need to change some fundamental habits to get a more sustainable living. We need to reinvent the way we make, supply, design, shop, use and recycle. In the past humans managed to go through some invention leaps that were improving life in general, all due to some innovators/ inventors that followed their instinct. They had the courage to follow their ideas no matter the failures and opinions .We can thank them for electricity, phones, internet, cars and so much more….
Maybe this is exactly what our society needs again to have a leap of faith and get our kids to grow a creator mindset to change the world.
We were born curious about the world but this is like a muscle and it needs to be used, fed and grow. Ideally we need to let our kids use their creativity and imagination as often as possible.
We cannot just count on the school to do it, so how can we do it? I can imagine many of you saying “ but I do not have time” “ I am working”. And I totally get it. You can be reassured: this is easier than what you think.
Just follow these simple steps to allow our kids to play deep and grow their creativity:
1- Offer your kids their autonomy while playing:
Set up toys so they can be easily accessed without your help. In our society so many things are decided for our kids, let them lead their unstructured play.
2- Do not rely on TV to teach your kids to be creative.
TV is good for many things but puts viewers in a passive role when you instead want to prompt your kids to act and lead their own independent play.
3- Let your kids be bored as this an excellent trigger for creativity.
Do not distract them from it and let them come up with their own ideas. At first, you may need to be strong on that point! Many cannot bear the boredom as they are so used to having extensive extracurricular activities and busy social agendas. They become dependent on this busy life and cannot find by themselves what to do when bored. They need to learn again to be resourceful and to lead their own playtime. The more they do it, the easier it will become.
4- Let your kid access some open-ended toys or materials.
These foster play and spark imagination, as they are not bound to a specific way to be played with. They can be made of wood, plastic, they can also be simple components such as gutter pipes, wooden blocks, sticks …the list is endless and they do not have to be expensive. You can also find some beautiful preloved supplies. Your kids can experience physics and maths through play, gaining creativity and an instinct for science while having fun. What angle makes the marble go faster? Will the car jump ? yes/ no? why? They will learn by making experiments and understanding what works and what does not. Let them try even if you think it will not work. They have to learn by themselves and figure out solutions. Maybe you will be surprised as I have been many times.
5- Let them try and make errors without interrupting, or commenting on their play.
Restrain yourself from any comments or if asked to comment, do it on what you see and on the effort made not on the aesthetic of their creation. You want them to get into deep play rather than a superficial state of play that needs constant validation from your end.
6- If you have never done this before,
a. Set up an invitation to play: select a few items that you display together and challenge your kids to create something with it.
b. Spark their interest: show them a video of someone being creative using similar supplies – get them excited to have a go.
--- Creativity is like a muscle, the more you use it, the easier and stronger it will get. ---
Yes it may get a little messy and chaotic but children gain so much more from leading their own learning curve through independent play. Let's give them the best chance in life by allowing our kids to rise to their full potential and awaken their superpower: Creativity.
Finally what did we get from all what happened in the last 8 months?
For once all was stopped, the busy life, the school runs and extra curricular activities races that seem to be the norm in our society. What if we used this unprecedented time to examine our old habits and keep only what truly benefits our children?
Ask yourself, with honesty and self-compassion: What is the reason behind the crammed schedule? Some will be looking for engaging childcare options to support their working families. Others will be keen to provide their children access to all the activities they themselves longed to try as children. Many will want to push their kids to achieve more, do better or keep up with the neighbors. Can we find a healthy balance? After all, taking the time is a good thing right?