In a lot of ways, my kidlets have it a lot better today than I did growing up. They’ve got more opportunities for education, better fashion as well as a multitude of technology, information, communication and entertainment options available instantly at their fingertips. But is all this advancement at the expense of igniting the creative spark within our children?
According to a 2010 study by the College of William and Mary of about 300,000 creativity tests going all the way back to the 1970s found that creativity has decreased among American children in recent years. Since 1990, children have become less able to produce unique and unusual ideas. They are also less humorous, less imaginative and less able to elaborate on ideas.
To me, my kidlets have short attention spans and tend to bore easily. Sometimes they have a hard time inventing their own play. Though they have rooms full of toys, games, art supplies and books, they still come and ask “what can I do/play?” I used to think they didn’t have enough options, but now I’m thinking they might actually have too much to choose from and don’t know what would actually satisfy them….
They often ask me and The Hubs what we did as kids, what things were like. We try to explain to them a world without cell phones, texting, 24 hour cartoon (or heck, even television) networks, elaborate video games, the internet and anything “on demand.” A world of cars with roll down windows, rotary dial telephones and without remote controls.
As kids we played outside from dawn until dusk. We invented games with tennis balls, Frisbees, jump ropes and chalk. We used boxes, sticks, old clothes, bed sheets and anything else we could get our hands on to create intricate worlds from both near and far to play in. We rode our bikes EVERYWHERE and when our tires went flat, we walked! We read books and we even formed clubs around them (where are all my Nancy Drew-ers?!).
If you could see the looks on my kidlets faces when we tell them this – it is priceless. They’re not sure whether we’re joking around with them or if they think that we lived in the Stone Age like the Flintstones…
The Hubs and I are trying to make a conscious effort to stimulate our children’s creativity and imaginations by going analogue. For Christmas we got our daughter has a bin of costumes, filled with super heroes, princesses and medical scrubs – she loves to dress up and create her own little scenes of play. We keep my son in constant supply of sketch books and art kits because he loves to draw. Elaborate monsters and fantastical creatures are what he loves to draw best, we’re encouraging him to create backstories for them and create his own comics. We also encourage them to play outside at any opportunity, to run around, have fun and not be zombies to the TV and video games they so love.
We even decided to send them to a new day camp this summer. We’re hoping it will be an adventure for them. They’ll be outside all day — swimming, canoeing, doing arts & crafts, archery, taking nature walks – and just having fun with friends.
I know that technology and advancement are good for my kidlets and for the world – but not at the sacrifice of their creativity. It’s my job as their parent to do all I can to help keep stimulating their minds and imaginations.
Now it’s your turn to share. What are your tips to stimulate a child’s creativity?
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