I once read a study (sorry I couldn't find the link) that had 2 groups of early elementary children. One group was put in a classroom with a table full of art supplies in the center. No instruction or encouragement was given regarding the supplies.
The other group was shown the supplies and a teacher was posted nearby to encourage students to use the supplies and commend them on their creations.
Guess which group used the supplies more readily, more enthusiastically, and more creatively?
The group that was not monitored or encouraged.
The conclusion of the study was that when children fear being judged, they will not venture to be creative.
Have you ever been to craft time at your local library and seen that one mom who insists that her child's pumpkin be colored just so? and the hat be placed on the scarecrow at just the right angle?
I always think of the 2 groups of children when I encounter that mom. I wonder if she realizes she is stifling her child's creativity and I wonder what that child might come up with without her well-meaning, but misguided encouragement.
Here are a few samples of the things my children came up with completely on their own, during their free time in the last week or two.
My 10 year old apparently felt like Barbie and her friends weren't dressed modestly, so she gave them some new clothes.
Mind you, I never said, "Here is some yarn. What can you make from it?" She simply saw a need and made use of available supplies.
Here is my 5 year old "listening to Thriller on her iPod". She came up with this completely on her own.
Here is the 1 year old "helping" to fold clothes.
"Look, Mommy! It's a hat!" (Yes, I know she's still messy from lunch. That's how creative types roll.)
Creativity starts young.
Don't stifle it.
How do your children express their creativity?