- By Art Gib
- Published 01/13/2010
Former President George W. Bush once asked, “Is our children educated?” No, but seriously, the more time I spend around the younger generation, the more I sense that something is seriously lacking in our educational system. While they are each learning facts and figures, the spark of imagination that used to be such a valuable part of childhood seems to have faded. But no matter how old your children are, it doesn’t have to stay that way for them. Creative thinking is the key to any kind of innovation, which keeps every major aspect of our society going, so it can’t stop now. It has to continue with us and our children. Begin by teaching your little ones to use their senses. We live in a very commercial society and are therefore constantly bombarded by images. We learn to see, but never to focus. Take your children out into nature, encouraging them to notice the details of the landscape. Teach them to sit still and take notice of everything going on around them. Then encourage them to convey their experiences through description. They might want to tell stories to their younger siblings or neighborhood children. Buy them a little notebook or a journal–nothing too fancy required–so that they can write down their inspired thoughts as they come. Many, many children will allow their imaginations to soar if they feel they can write without fear of some sort of negative reaction.
s it is up to you to be consistently supportive. For some young ones, you may not even be able to offer “constructive criticism,” without putting the reins on their creative power. They must first develop confidence before they can put their neck on the chopping block (and that is honestly what it feels like to be criticized when you are first starting out). They may or may not take to writing–many children do when encouraged, but it isn’t for everyone–but you should be sure to encourage them in their individual modes of expression. Then try to provide them with unique experiences that will fuel their imaginations. This can be the tricky part, as each person, no matter their age, is so different when it comes to how they draw their inspiration. But traveling is an almost sure-fire way to expose your youth to new people, places, and even cultures that will spark their imagination. Sometimes it is best to even allow them to travel more-or-less on their own. Specialized summer camps–like San Francisco creative writing camps–will be specifically geared toward your child’s craft of choice, allowing them to not only to have wonderful experiences but also to work with professionals that can help them grow and develop in a way perhaps you cannot.
Nourishing your children’s creative thought processes will help them not only as they struggle through the issues of life; it will also become a boon to them in their lives as a whole. While their peers are scratching their heads in a situation that requires creative thinking, your children will excel.