Setting Up a Creative Environment at Home
Creativity requires nurturing and it isn’t as easy as simply taking up a course. The best place for a child to start developing creativity is at home. Perhaps the single most important activity you can do with and for your kid is to cultivate a reading habit. Reading feeds the brain and gives the child the foundation to build a make-believe world or to make sense of the world around him. It is also important to note that reading should be pleasurable and not be seen as a punishment. You might want to check out previous article on reading tips.
Now, let’s take a look at some easy-to-implement ideas to create a creative environment:
- Chaos Space
Children need time for unstructured imaginative play, unencumbered by adult direction. This could mean a lot of mess if you do not restrict play to a designated area. Children’s art can be very endearing until they end up on your vintage Henredon sofa. Give them a specific place where they can make a mess. Create a safe play area where kids can go wild experimenting without fear of repercussions. Of course, in space scarce Singapore, you may think that this does not sound like a feasible option. When I was growing up in a tiny flat in Bedok Reservoir, my chaos space was a small one-meter by one-meter wall in the kitchen. That was all the space I needed and it became my go-to place all the way till we moved out when I was 13.
- Round Table Discussion
You will save a lot of time making decisions for the family, but round table discussion time will help children exercise their lateral thinking skills which aid in creative development. You will probably find their ideas outlandish or even “impossible”, but that’s okay. The focus of this exercise is in the process: generating of new ideas. Let them disagree with you. Encourage them to find more than one route to a solution, and more than one solution to a problem.
- Encourage Failure Discovery
The term ‘failure’ has such a negative connotation, in Singapore at least. Children growing in an environment where they are penalized for mistakes will curb their own creative thought. If that word offends you, then look at it as a process in self-discovery. With the right encouragement, children can be tenacious little creatures. They have all the time in the world to try and try again until they succeed.
- Art Exhibit at Home
Celebrate your child’s work by covering your walls with art and other evidence of creative expression. This is also a good platform for parents to unleash their inner child. A parent-child doodling activity can be a work of art to your child and a stress reliever for you. I remember vividly an argument between a child and his father at a holiday workshop I conducted a few years back. It was a Star Wars Lego event for parent and child. The dad was upset that his child was not building the “right” model but the child, petulant and stubborn, insisted on building a castle in the clouds instead of the space station shown on the box.
- Don’t reward creativity
Yes, you read that right. I just advised you not to reward your child for exhibiting creativity. The reward should be in the accomplishment itself and your words of encouragement. The creative developmental process is a natural course for your child and incentivizing his actions will create operant conditioning, limiting your child’s thought process to the actions that will only yield rewards.
Written by Eugene Tay, founder of Brain & Butter and Monsters Under the Bed.
When Eugene was a young boy, he wanted to be an astronaut. When that didn't take off, he decided that he was going to be like Indiana Jones and explore the world as an archaeologist. Eventually, he figured out how he can do both. That's when he became a writer.
Co-Written by Grace Chai, mother of a newborn baby boy.
Grace is a new mom and currently undergoing intensive On-The-Job Training for her new role. Between pumping milk, changing diapers and taking selfies with her baby, Grace manages stress by writing about her motherhood experience for ParentTown.