February 26, 2020

Happy Wednesday!

Today I wanted to share with you an article that I read from the American Psychology Association about creativity and I wanted to share it with you.

In schools all around the country the rapidly changing world around us is leaving many educators worried about how to teach children and eventually adults to prepare them for the future. Innovation is at the core of this new way of thinking when it comes to teaching.

Did you know that according to a NASA study done, 98% of 4-5 year olds scored in the “creative genius” level? Yes! Did you also know that five years later, only 30 percent of the same group of children scored at the same level? Then again, five years after that only 12 percent? I don’t know about you but those statistics are frightening!

It seems that education itself causes us to change our thinking from divergent to convergent thinking. What this means that instead of thinking outside of the box, we learn that some things are just a certain way and questioning the facts are discouraged.

Sure, you may argue that some things are of course facts, but the truth is that not everything we learn are just facts.

A psychologist by the name of Robert Epstein, Ph.D. has conducted research for ways to strengthen creativity. These are the 4 ways that you can apply them to your children!

  1. Capture new ideas– Encourage your kids to keep a notebook by their bed to write down ideas that come to their head. If they prefer to use their phone or computer they can write and save ideas there too. Even as a parent you can carry with you a notebook to encourage and show your child that you value their ideas.
  2. Seek out challenging tasks – It’s human nature to want to do things that come easily to us. Let’s face it, it is hard to struggle when you are first learning something. However, remember that even professionals and experts were once novices. No one is born knowing everything. Try encouraging your child to imagine crazy solutions to life’s problems. Just the exercise of trying to come up with solutions to problems that seem unsolvable will encourage your brain to come up with new ideas and innovative concepts. When their brains try to tell them that something is impossible, or worse…we as parents tell them that something is impossible we quiet the creative genius inside them.
  3. Broaden your knowledge – Encourage your child to read or look up information about a wide array of subjects. Even if their passion is sports or cooking or history, etc. spending time learning about different things will create new thoughts and this is how some of the most innovative ideas are born! As a parent, try reading about something you know nothing about. It’s never too late to learn about something new. This can begin in early childhood and can be your child’s mantra through college and life.
  4. Surround yourself with interesting things and people – Again, we are most comfortable with people that think like we do or act like we do. Try going out of your comfort zone. Encourage kids to speak to a new child at school or maybe try studying in a different area of the house to bring a change of scenery. Look up local events near you and try something different.

Other ways mentioned in the article were about staying happy, rested and bright. I know that you have heard me mention the importance of sleep.

Sleep- It turns out that according to a study done in 1993 at Harvard Medical School by psychologist Deidre Barrett, PhD., she asked her students to imagine a problem they were trying to solve right before they went to sleep. It turns out that half of the students reported having dreams that addressed their problem and a quarter came up with solutions to their problems. (I think us parents can use this skill too!!). (published in Dreaming (Vol.3No.2 1993).

Happiness- Another study published in Creativity Research (Vol. 16, No.2, 2004, found that sadness inhibits new ideas. When someone is sad they are afraid of making decisions and making mistakes so they stop coming up with solutions and sometimes stay stuck in their thought patterns.

Bright– This last one is a simple one. Research shows that our creativity is boosted when we are in natural environments. Spend time outside, go for walks, and be creative when choosing a study area for your child to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

So it turns out that most of us are born as creative geniuses! Let’s try to encourage that creativity in our children. They will be the ones coming up with solutions and inventions for the future. Definitely something to think about!

Have a wonderful week!

Elizabeth Vainder, M.D.

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