Nurturing Creativity in Kids:The Benefits of Following Through!

In my last post “Got Ideas? Got Kids with Ideas?” on creativity and child-development, I mentioned the three steps to consider for any BIG or little idea:

  1. Imagine
  2. Capture
  3. Execute

There is so much benefit to encouraging our childrens’ big thoughts and plans, but the lesson for me is that execution is as much an important part of that as the imagining itself is. (Execution is perhaps the hardest step for any of us, especially when it comes to investing the time and energy to help our children with some project in the midst of our busy lives.) But it’s through the execution process that so much of the important learning takes place. They get to sense the joy and personal satisfaction of finishing a job, of seeing a vision through, learning the many lessons and gaining the many crucial skills along the way. Here are just a few, and the good news is that these skills strengthen the “executive functions” realm of the brain which is the best way to influence a child’s school-readiness and success, and the key concept in child development and education right now.

  • sustained motivation
  • follow-through
  • planning
  • higher-order thinking
  • problem-solving
  • collaborative working

Where would we be if the following BIG thinkers of the world had not followed through with their own ideas? Einstein, Bill Gates, Alexander Graham Bell, or Susan B. Anthony? My bet is that when they were kids, they had enough down-time to consider, to day-dream, to play, to discover and follow new interests and passions, to write and draw and experiment and make messes. And they must have had a parent or other grown-up who encouraged them to follow through! 

(With all this in mind, I feel compelled to follow through with MJ’s latest BIG idea…an Easter Egg sale, inspired by a favorite book of his:

MJ presented this step-by-step plan in pictures to me after rest-time one day…

Then, he had me “transcribe” the steps into words on this chart he had prepared. My favorite is step 5, “Shout EASTER EGGS FOR SALE!”

He even made this checklist to keep track of the steps as we go. PRESSURE! (Mommy, you gotta follow through on this one.)

The Plan to EXECUTE? We’re going to combine this “sale” with his 6th birthday party on Saturday, making it the first birthday party ever with the following theme: “Which Came First: The Chicken or the Egg?” I told him that usually people don’t sell things at their own b’day parties, but he told me he wanted to give the money away. He’s going to donate the money to Heifer International, for poor families around the world to get a flock of chickens that will change their lives. Pretty cool. We’ll do the chicken dance and have an egg relay, eat eggs 3 ways (hard-boiled, in a quiche, and scrambled green, of course), and maybe even have an egg toss!

Reflection:

  1. What big ideas have your kids had lately? (Remember, an idea that seems “little” to you might feel really big and important to them!)
  2. How do you typically react when they present an idea? (Do you sigh with frustrated exasperation or do your eyes and voice light up?)
  3. What Big Ideas do YOU have for your family, career, community, life?
  4. What are the stumbling blocks for you to get through step 3, execution? Time, motivation, energy, a plan? How cool would it be to model these three steps for your own children with your idea, discussing it with them along the way!
  5. What steps can you take to give your child and yourself more down-time together for imagining, capturing, and executing BIG (and little) ideas?

MJ spent down-time inventing the world’s longest sled!

Fortunately, he can do lots of projects without my help! He worked on this “world’s longest sled” complete with an instrument basket and surround sound to add music while you are sledding down a hill.  his project took him hours of down-time, and though it created a mess along the way, it gave me down-time, too! I feel little guilt in un-doing it while he was out of town so I could do laundry again after a few days, but I keep telling myself, “It’s about the process, not the product, and I knew we wouldn’t be getting any March snows in Dallas. Surprisingly, he hasn’t seem to have noticed…phew! Watch MJ explain his sled-invention to relieve some of my guilt, please. He would LOVE for you to see it and comment!

Next in this “Creativity Series”? I’ll talk about my “aha” moment regarding Ellie’s own creative outlet, and how ALL children speak a different creative “language”.