{Nurturing Creativity - The Key To Success}

As many of you may know, the transition to 'big kid school' is on our doorstep, and I continually question what is the best path for Princess Pea - which is the best school option for her? She is so full of wonder and creative spiritand I've been very conscious of nurturing that spirit in everything we do. I want her to be in an environment that will help her to grow her creativity, not 'teach it out of her'.

As an EAL teacher, I hear the concerns of many parents who are new to our school and want to know that it's the best school for their children. I reassure them that our school upholds high academic standards, that their children are learning and growing, that each child receives the attention and support needed to achieve and succeed.

For me as a parent, however, it's not a question of academic standards. It's a question of developing creativity. Will she be encouraged to think independently? To experiment? To play? To explore? To create? Will she be taught how to inquire and problem-solve and develop new, creative solutions? For me, it's not math or reading or academic standards that are all-important. For me, creativity is the key to success - success in every aspect of life. 

At a recent open question period for prospective school administrators, I asked one of the candidates what one thing they believed was the most important thing for students to be able to do by the end of their time at our school. He responded 'read well', with the argument that the children who are good readers will be able to learn the most, and will therefore be the successful leaders of the future. Sorry, but that's the wrong answer in my books. Successful leaders aren't born out of good reading skills. Successful leaders are born out of creative thinking. Good readers will be good at learning about other people's ideas. Creative thinkers will be good at generating their own ideas.

With this mindset, I was thrilled to hear about the new ebook by Jillian Riley of A Mom With A Lesson Plan, titled Raising a Creative Kid: Simple Strategies for Igniting and Nurturing That Creative Spark. Jillian's argument is that everyone has the ability to be a creative thinker, if only we encourage and nurture that natural, creative spark. I completely agree, and as both a teacher and a parent, I strive every day to help children develop their creativity so that creative thinking becomes a skill that will lead them to success throughout their lives.

I have been lucky enough to get an advance copy of this inspiring ebook and to have had the opportunity to ask Jillian a few questions about how I can raise my own kids to be creative. Here's what she had to say:

1. As a parent and as a teacher, how can I help my children to develop their creativity?

There are so many of ways to foster creativity in our kids. The number one way (and perhaps the hardest to accomplish) is to get out of the way. Letting kids make their own creative decisions lets them see the full result of their actions, while growing their confidence to try new things. 

2. Our big 'home project' this summer is to set up our Project Room - a room for art and creative projects as well as a learning space for our 5 year old. Can you give me any tips on how to do this?

Absolutely! Our art center has grown over the past couple of years and now takes up half the play room. M and M wouldn't have it any other way. The more accessible creative materials are the easier it is for art and projects to become part of their everyday. Having the ability to make a raft out of craft sticks because your lion needs to cross the raging river you have built out of blocks is INCREDIBLE. There is no end to the imaginative play you can experience when you can create what you need, when you need it. Some suggestions:

  • Keep materials accessible so that your kids can easily see and reach what they need.
  • Use recycled materials like egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, wrapping paper, birthday cards, etc.
  • Keep the area organized. This will avoid the overwhelming feeling too much stuff can cause.
  • Use a kid sized art table or art mats, so they are not worried about the "mess".

3. As a parent, what should I be looking for in a school that I hope will nurture my child's creativity instead of squashing it?

That's a hard one. When Big M started Kindergarten we found that his teacher (who I adore) had very different views on creating than we do. She likes nice, neat and proper. I like "here are some materials, let's see what you can do". The interesting thing was, he flourished. The two styles meeting seemed to bring him to a new level. 

While I would encourage you to find a school where worksheets and identical art are rare... there is something to be said for following directions once in a while. Have confidence in what you've brought to your little one and make sure creativity is a priority at home. If you encounter a problem, you can help your little one find a creative solution.

* Wow, Jillian, this is a light-bulb moment for me! THANK YOU! That makes perfect sense - balance!

4. How can I help my daughter get past her need for perfection and learn to appreciate her own efforts in the process along the path to creativity?

Very good question! I would bet you are not the only parent who struggles with this. In Raising a Creative Kid I talk a lot about the importance of mistakes. For kids who are driven to be perfect, accepting mistakes is probably the most important gift you can give them. Teaching her how to dissect each mistake and learn from it will help in all areas of her life. A big tip would be to model the behavior. Create something that is less than perfect and provide a running commentary on how you will improve on it next time. Be upbeat and point out all the ways this will help you in the future. 

These are great tips, Jillian, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions!

To get your own copy of Raising a Creative Kid, click on the image above to place your order!


Mama Pea Pod is super excited to be an affiliate for Raising a Creative Kid! If you are interested in buying this book, I'd love for you to click through the link above to do so. By using this particular link, I will get a commission on the sale. Thank you!