When one mentions creative writing, many people relate it to traditionally “creative” outlets like art and craft, music and dance, just to name a few. However, creative thinking is any thinking that stretches the mind or encourages thinking out of the box. Just like any other skill, creative thinking can be trained and developed. The best time to start cultivating creative thinking is when one is young. Nurturing the ability of creative thinking will help children substantially in school and even in the workplace later on. Here are a few ways you can encourage creative thinking in your children.
Use Open-Ended Questions
Asking your children open-ended questions is an extremely crucial step in encouraging creative thinking. Open-ended questions are questions that do not have a simple fixed answer. The questions you ask do not have to pertain to facts and have a “right” or “wrong” answer. A few interesting questions can be, “what would happen if we have no insects on Earth?” or “How do birds fly?” You can also reply them with more open-ended questions of your own when they ask a question. For example, “Why do you think it is so?” and “How do you think we can find out the answer?” These questions would stretch their mind instead of merely receiving an answer, thereby encouraging creative thinking.
Use Free Play
Let their imaginations run wild with no restrictions. A few ways you can do this is through acting, music, art and storytelling. The possibilities are endless. Create a story with your child and act it out along the way. Or encourage your child to act like his or her favourite cartoon character, including dialogues and sound effects! Also, one could find music everywhere – let them stomp their feet, use pots and pans as drums or sing out loud. Dance along to the music and come up with different dance moves. When your child has a completed piece of artwork, you can ask open-ended questions about what the drawing means and whether they can create a story from the artwork. These are also fantastic opportunities for parent-child bonding time!
Let Them Be Independent
Instead of deciding for your children, allow them to verbalise their opinion as well. For example, when deciding on a place to eat, give options to your children and let them make a choice. Give them the space to let them do what they want while also keeping watch on their safety. Instantly saying no to them would curb creative thinking.
Think in a Different Light
When your child has solved a problem, encourage them to think of other ways to address it. It can be through thinking of new methods to bring about the same solution, or different solutions to the same problem. If your children require help, step in with your own suggested solutions, and explain how you came up with them. This method helps to improve their problem solving and critical thinking skills.
Allow Them to Make Mistakes
Most importantly, allow your children to fail. If they get into a sticky situation at the playground, give them time to figure out the solution (and fail many times) as opposed to rushing over to help them. It develops their problem-solving skills. They may even at times surprise you with solutions that you may never have thought of for the same situation! The same goes for older children, refrain from giving them answers to their questions immediately. Instead, provide them with time to ponder and present them with some guidance to the answer.
There are so many outlets in your home and community to encourage creative thinking in children. Do not set limits on their thinking and allow them to express themselves freely to hone this important skill. In the process, you may also develop your creative thinking skills and bond with your child at the same time!