• India’s most comprehensive parenting portal, with excerpts from ParentEdge – India’s leading parenting magazine

Teaching Children to Think Creatively

Cognitive-Deliberative: Comes from sustained work in a particular discipline and involves using existing knowledge in novel ways. For instance, someone like Thomas Edison, who tried over 10,000 times before his model of the light bulb worked. Classical dancers and singers, and scientists also fall into this category.

Deliberate-Emotional: Arises from the ‘aha’ moment when people in a crisis get an insight into the causes and effects of their situation; often follows introspection. This applies to anyone in a stressful position (getting fired, bankruptcy, etc.).

Spontaneous-Cognitive: The ‘Eureka’ moment when someone thinking deeply about a problem lets go and the subconscious mind connects the dots. Think Isaac Newton seeing the theory of gravity in a falling apple, and other inventors.

Spontaneous-Emotional: The popular ‘flash’ of creativity among artists and writers; it doesn’t require a great deal of specialised knowledge. Authors, poets, musicians, and artists would fall into this category.

Creating a climate of creativity , critical thinking and problemsolving at home

Almost everyone agrees that education today cannot be left to schools alone. Parents play an important role in developing and stimulating the child’s intellect – this is something that ParentEdge has explored time and again in all our cover stories. Here is a list of pointers of what parents can do to supplement creative thinking exercises in school with a stimulating environment at home.

  • When the child asks a question, avoid simply stating the answer, rather lead her to the answer by asking questions in turn. This will enable her to think critically and creatively.
  • Ask children questions all the time and give them problems to solve – not solutions – ranging from everyday small problems to larger ones that they can think about. Help them understand that many times there are no right or wrong answers, only different ways to approaching a problem. Encourage them to think of different approaches.
  • Do not insist on error-free learning – give them the freedom to experiment and use trial and error to solve problems.
  • Foster creative thinking through practical experiments and little activities.
  • Be supportive of independent thinking even if it means they make mistakes – don’t do their homework for them!
  • Teach children to read beyond the curriculum and discuss what they have read so they can reflect and introspect on it – you don’t want to turn them into passive readers!
  • Ask your children to give you unusual uses for everyday objects; this promotes divergent thinking. For e.g., things you can do with a pen.
  • Suggest that she invents her owngames when she is with her friends and uses her imagination to unravel the plot.
  • Provide your child with stimulating games like puzzles, logical games, tangrams, etc.
  • Propose Do it Yourself (DIY) assembly – it will allow her to think through instructions and literally generate something out of bits and pieces.
  • Give her honest feedback. Just because your child was able to think differently doesn’t mean she is right all the time. At times when her understanding doesn’t match the reality, make sure that her effort is appreciated, and yet, understanding is corrected. As mentioned before, evaluation is a critical part of creative thinking, and needs to be inculcated as well.
  • Play word games – they encourage children to make creative associations between disparate elements.
  • Use visual thinking games like deciphering abstract images, which encourage the use of imagination and the ability of visualisation.
  • Encourage free play, where a child uses her imagination to explore the world around her in an unstructured and undefined manner.
  • Cut down on TV viewing hours! Researchers argue that TV inhibits creativity because it converts people into mute spectators and suppresses visualisation.


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