After a comment made by a friend who I admire immensely, I decided to write this post about one of my children. Being a mother for seven years has been one of the most tiring, motivating and rewarding experiences of my life. My children have constantly chipped away at my fragile ego, lack of patience, and black or white thinking making me a better person in the process.
Both of my children have really pushed me to better understand and respect creativity, which is a huge departure from my analytical ways. My daughter Caylan has really pushed (well more like shoved) me out of my comfort zone as a parent and educator with her innovative and imaginative thinking. Recently, I stumbled across this article by Adam Grant about how to foster and encourage a creative spirit in children and it got me to thinking….am I doing a good job of this for my daughter? Am I doing a good job of this for students in my building?
For someone like me who has no ounce of creativity in her blood, it is sometimes hard to grasp what my daughter is thinking when she creates. Her mind is like the end of a fiber optic cable branching into tons of directions with ideas. She sees something and finds ways to “remix” these items with determination, pleasure, and joy. Piggy backing off Rafranz Davis who wrote a great post regarding feedback for creative children, here are some additional ways us non-creative folks can help a creative child to flourish.
Realize you won’t always understand the why. I agree with what Rafranz mentioned about asking questions or the “why” about creative people’s work. I would like to take that a step further. I have begun to remind myself that Caylan’s “why” might not make sense to me and that’s okay. It is not necessary for me to understand Caylan’s creations completely. Instead, my job is to embrace her creations, give her a safe place to create without fear of ridicule and allow her the opportunity to flourish.
Opportunity. This is the one that I have embraced the most in my journey raising a creative child. I am constantly looking for ways to provide outlets for her creative juices to flow. From Minecraft to Raspberry Pi, Legos to Snap Circuits, or even just extra cardboard boxes, giving Caylan a variety of potential creative spaces is essential to the creative mind. By not affording ample opportunities to explore and create I become stifling and do her a major disservice.
Be involved within reason. In providing opportunities and asking questions I also need to remember to pump the breaks and not hover over Caylan during her creative moments. It is okay for her to work alone, get frustrated and struggle some. Not being a helicopter parent with her creativity but allow her to experience some failure and setbacks during her creative processes is essential. It helps her build problem-solving skills and builds confidence in her abilities when she is able to move from setback to success.
Attention and Care. This one has been hard for me because it is sometimes exhausting to be completely engaged in the hundreds of creations Caylan works on regularly. I’ve been better (it is still a work in progress) at focusing and really listening to her explain her creations to me without distraction. I have to remind myself her creativity is a God-given gift that needs my regular attention and encouragement. I don’t want to be the cause of her losing her spark or become the adult that pulls the rug out from under her when she decides to share her gift by my lack of attentiveness.
As a parent, I want to give both of my children the best and all the opportunities that I can, but I have decided that this should be a concerted part of my work efforts too. Raising a creative child has sparked a desire to foster creativity in students and teachers in my building. My plan is to use my position to make necessary changes at my school so that it can become a safe and empowering place for our creative individuals to thrive. I will remind myself not to stifle creative individuals in my building, but instead build platforms and opportunities for the spotlight to shine brightly on their work. As we embark on summer break, most educators are already planning for the fall. I challenge you during your planning to make the decision to be the adult in the classroom, school, or school district that allows the Braedens and Caylans of the world a space to shine. Be willing to open your eyes to experience wonderful glow the creative genius radiates giving you a glimpse into these individuals’ unique and beautiful souls. I promise you will not regret it….