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Joel McIntosh

Joel McIntosh
I'm the publisher at Prufrock Press. I've been involved with education for more than 20 years and hold a masters degree in gifted education. I've been a classroom teacher and a parent (still am that). In addition to this blog, you can follow me on Twitter. Feel free to contact me by e-mail if you have any questions about this blog or Prufrock Press.

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Creatively Gifted Children

Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - by CFertig - Category: Parents and Educators
 
I often get the following comment about my two grown boys: “They are both so creative and so funny. How did they get to be that way?”
 
The people who make this comment are correct; Brian and Todd are very creative. Being funny is probably part of that creativity. As adults, this innovative ability is demonstrated in their approach to their jobs, solutions to problems they encounter in life, and the way they spend their spare time. Because they can look at situations in creative ways, they also greet life in a very upbeat fashion.
 
Creativity is a great asset. Some seem to be born with it and for others it may be a bit of a challenge, but no matter what, it can definitely be enhanced.
 
I think that my two boys were basically born creative, but I also found that there were ways to enhance this trait as they progressed through childhood. I would like to share some of those ways with you.
 
Tolerance for Chaos
If everything in your house always has to be neat and tidy, you will have a difficult time encouraging creativity. Sometimes it is necessary to mess up the house to have fun.
 
Tolerance for chaos is also very helpful in making good decisions. Kids (and adults) often want instant answers. To make good decisions it is often necessary to have “think time.” During this think time, one can come up with a variety of possible choices from which to choose. The more choices, the greater the chance one has of selecting a good one.
 
Brainstorming ideas also fits under the umbrella of tolerating chaos. On their Creativity Central Idea Blog, Jake and Maria G. pose a variety of questions that incorporate brainstorming by allowing readers to respond. You really should take a look at this as some of their questions and responses are quite thought provoking.
 
Less Is More
You don’t have to spend any extra money to encourage creativity in kids. All you need to do is look around the house and think about different ways of using the items you already have.
 
Sheets and blankets draped across furniture make great playhouses. This may mean rearranging the furniture. Add some stuffed animals and a whole fantasy world can be constructed. Let the kids use their imaginations for the use of each room or area of this fantasy world.
 
Keep a box of unused or discarded hats, costume jewelry, pieces of cloth, shoes, and clothing that children can use to dress-up. Make sure a full-length mirror is available so children can see how they look. An old slip may suddenly become the gown of a princess, especially when combined with a necklace and a feathery boa. Garage sales and thrift shops are also inexpensive places to buy items for the dress-up box.
 
Bathtub toys can consist of empty plastic bottles of various sizes that can be floated or used to pour water from container to container. A plastic bowl may become a boat. All can be stored under the sink in a plastic pail.
 
Recycle your plastic meat trays, tin foil, and anything else that can be washed. Save all kinds of odds and ends of ribbon, string, yarn, sewing scraps, colorful paper, catalogs, etc. Whenever you’re going to throw something out, look at it in a different way and think if your child might use it in some creative way. Keep the items in a creativity box for the kids on a rainy day. Coupled with scissors, markers, and glue, they will create artwork and create inventions.
 
When Halloween rolled around, we didn’t go out and buy costumes; instead, they decided who or what they wanted to be and we would decide together how the costume could be made. This was actually a practical reason for them to learn how to use the sewing machine.
 
Encourage Fantasy
There were a couple of times as my boys were growing up when they created whole fantasy themes together. For weeks or months, everything in their lives revolved around these themes. One time they decided they were each birds. Another time they decided they were flies. (This may embarrass them as adults, but it was great to see their young minds at work.) With each fantasy, they created songs, rhymes, ways that they moved their bodies, games they played, and how they slept. It would have been easy to discourage this, especially when the boys decided that birds only eat with their beaks. After all, this is not encouraging good manners at the table. I knew the fantasy wouldn’t last forever, so I let them be birds.
 
Older Children and Creativity
As the boys grew, their creativity demonstrated itself in other ways. They produced wonderful videos that were driven by themes or stories that they made up. Brian programmed his own computer games. Todd found unusual ways to practice the piano, making the memorization of pieces easy. They approached their sports (extreme skiing and technical rock climbing) with thoughtful problem solving techniques.
 
Mistakes Are Great
Mistakes serve two purposes: we learn from them (hopefully) and they can sometimes lead us in a positive direction that we did not anticipate. Many successful inventions originated from mistakes. There are some great books on this subject, such as Accidents May Happen (50 Inventions Discovered By Mistake), and Mistakes That Worked: 40 Familiar Inventions and How They Came to Be, both by Charlotte Jones.

In his blog Creative Projects for Gifted Students, Joel McIntosh talks about the importance of student projects that reach a real audience. Creative inventions fit right into this need. Why not encourage kids to participate in one of the many creative invention competitions, such as
Let Their Minds Flow
So, enjoy and encourage the creativity in your children. Know that with your encouragement, these traits will help them to become productive individuals and good problem solvers as adults.
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