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Sharing Creative Time as a Family

It helps foster learning

As parents we often put a tremendous emphasis on our kids doing well in school. While a good education is important, academic learning is just one type of intelligence. It’s important to remember that school is not an end in and of itself, but a way to help children develop. There are many ways we can encourage learning that do not involve long division or physics. Promoting creativity is one way you can have a tremendous impact on your child’s development and well-being as well as bond with them in a fun and meaningful way.

Encouraging creative thinking can improve your child’s ability to problem-solve, strategize and innovate, making life more interesting and pleasurable for kids to use their imaginations.

By promoting creativity in daily activities, you give your children permission to think. Sharing creative time with your kids makes that time more satisfying and increases the likelihood that you will both want to do more of it.

It’s not hard to foster creativity in your children. Here are three ways.

Create a secret family language: The next time you are in the supermarket with your kids, make the work into play by creating a new language that you and your children can use to communicate. Be as silly as you can with this. Develop a fresh rapport with your children by inventing an original vocabulary on the spot. Try out some strange accents. This type of activity stimulates creative thinking, draws out your kids’ communication skills and encourages them to try out new ways of expressing themselves.

Make a family musical: I’ve always thought that one of the silliest parts of musicals is when the actors transition from their speaking parts to a grand musical number. The idea of people breaking into song and dance in the middle of the hair salon, dentist’s office or courtroom is so pleasantly absurd that I’ve often wondered 4why we couldn’t do that in real life. In fact, thanks to my daughter, I now do this. When she turned three, my daughter began transforming familiar songs such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star into call-and-response dialogues about our activities. I decided to go with this and have discovered it is a great way to get things done. It’s easier to get dressed and out of the house when you are singing simply because it’s more fun.

Go planet-hopping as family: Another way to stimulate creativity is to pretend that you are doing your chores in different environments. Waiting in line in the post office is boring, but mailing letters or packages on the moon is not. Imagine doing everyday activities as though you were on other planets or in unusual habitats. Pretend to pick up your dry cleaning in zero gravity or wait for that bus in a make-believe windstorm. While driving to Grandma’s house, ask your kids to imagine that you are driving through a field of molasses or a rainbow. Ask them to describe what it looks and feels like to them.

Creative family activities such as these and others that you and your children dream up, can help stretch your kids’ minds in exciting new ways and boost their and your capacity for creative thinking.

Who knows, you might just enjoy yourself.


Dr. Ben Michaelis is a clinical psychologist who specializes in helping patients achieve well-being through creative expression. He is an adjunct professor of psychology at Columbia University and on the medical faculty at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan

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