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Children who amaze their teachers with unusual responses to questions or display a keen sense of humor are thinking creatively. Even children who perhaps are nonconforming and unpredictable are thinking creatively.
Because creative thought often goes against the set rules of a strict classroom or home, adults may be irritated by the behavior of a creative child. Adults often do not recognize the value creative children bring to families and classrooms. All children become adults who will make a difference in our world with their creative problem-solving skills.
Teachers and parents can help children learn to think and solve problems in creative ways by giving them the freedom to make mistakes and by respecting their ideas. This happens with greater mobility and use of language through modeling and being allowed to experiment without fearing failure.
To solve a problem creatively, children need to be able to see a variety of perspectives and to generate several solutions. When working on a problem, adults should teach young children to examine their surroundings for “cues” that will help them generate a pool of possible solutions. In addition, adults can encourage creative thought simply by providing:
Choices — Children who are given choices show more creativity than do children who have all choices made for them.
Stimulation — Physical environments designed to stimulate the senses can enhance creative problem solving. For example, when shown an object in the shape of a half-moon and asked, “What can we use this for?” children will exhaust their first mental images and begin developing ideas from what they see in their surroundings. Research has found that children who keep looking around a classroom or playroom for cues are using a creative problem-solving method. An environ ment that provides both novelty and variety will greatly aid creativity.
• Time for play and fantasy — Dramatic play just before engaging in problem-solving tasks can lead to more creative thought.
Creativity is more than a product — it’s a process. An interesting painting, a thought-provoking writing, a unique comment — these may be examples of creative work, but the decisions people make as they paint, sculpt, write, speak, play, and think are at the core of the creative process. Art and music are common examples of creativity, but creative thought appears in almost all aspects of life — from the way a parent quiets a crying child to the methods a scientist uses to discover a cure for a disease.