Encouraging Creative Thinking and Creating Problem Solvers

98% of five-year-olds are genius-level creative thinkers, but by our teens only 10% are. How can you nurture your child's creative thinking and problem-solving skills?

Kids learning play and thinking creatively

Over the last few weeks we’ve discussed the topics of STEM subjects, benefits of coding; and early childhood development trends; all of which have used key points around influencing a child’s creativity. But why is creativity important?

Studies on creativity have found that there’s a strong link between childhood creativity and career performance, well-being and happiness in adult life.

In essence, the benefits of nurturing creativity directly link to the ability to problem-solve. Creative problem solving and creativity overall were mentioned in a recent article from Forbes stating the key skills employers need following the pandemic, describing creativity as “an always in-demand skill”, that helps make “the business stand out”.

Specifically within the creative problem-solving process is the ability to generate many ideas and solutions to each topic. This is called divergent thinking and creativity is a key influence in nurturing this skill.

It’s known that with age, we lose our ability to think divergently; with studies showing that “98% of 5-year-olds scored at the genius level in such a test of divergent thinking. Test-takers aged 10 however, saw their number drop to 32%, and only 10% of high-school-age test-takers scored at the genius level”.

The decrease in our ability to think outside the box per se tends to be linked with society and how we are taught right from wrong answers, rather than a plethora of possible answers and ways of thinking. Along with this, divergent thinking can be seen as a negative to some employers and organisations when there are strict guidelines and structures in place.

However; despite this, it is proven that those who think creatively and have a higher ability for divergent thinking are more likely to train faster, have better customer skills, come up with innovative solutions, and are more likely to have traits of leadership.

Away from the direct influences to future employment and economic factors, creativity positively influences happiness and emotional well-being, with the encouragement of creativity being perceived by children as acceptance for them to pursue their passions and interests.

By allowing children to express themselves freely without judgement, it helps create something tangible from their expressions which can instil self-confidence, as well as an overwhelming feeling of love and acceptance, which is known to have lasting effects into adulthood.

Here are our top 8 tips for you to nurture your loved ones’ creativity:

  • Lead by example and talk about your thought process of how you go about solving things in our daily lives, communicating why you organise things in a certain way.
  • Support curiosity and avoid answering questions directly – ask questions in return, ask what they think and support their ideas.
  • Respecting a messy process – it can be difficult but creativity is not packaged in a clean tidy form.
  • Carefully manage reality and imagination – children can often derive an answer from alternative reality and it shouldn’t be stifled but encourage them to relate it or bring it back to reality also.
  • Stretch your child’s imagination by posing them a daily ‘quirky question’ such as ‘Why do trees get bigger?’ or ‘How many pairs of trousers are there in Manchester?’.
  • When asking a child to build, draw or create something for themselves; also ask how they’re going to achieve it. Allow them to vocalise a strategy.
  • Involve friends and family to encourage teamwork and collaborative working; sharing ideas; teaching them to, again, vocalise and communicate their vision.
  • Encourage children to play with open-ended toys. These are toys that can take many shapes and forms and can enter into a complete pretend or imaginative play scenario, again, combining reality and make-belief.

Check in next week for another Future Family article to help you help your child to learn through playing and developing a healthy, creative curiosity.