Most people view homeschooling as a time of focusing on academics. For most homeschooling families, providing our kids with a well-rounded education is important. But did you know that homeschooling also inspires creativity in kids? It does! (Or at least it can.) In this article, I’ll talk about how and why homeschooling inspires creativity, and then I’ll share 10 ways to inspire creativity in kids.
How Homeschooling Inspires Creativity in Kids
There are many ways to help foster creativity in your children through homeschooling!
Time for Creative Play and Pursuing Interests
When my youngest child (my artsy-craftsy child) was little, she had a huge imagination! She loved making little creations from craft supplies, designing her own little books, staging videos on her camera, and more. In her mind, there could never be enough costumes in our house to satisfy all the things she wanted to act out. She often included friends or siblings in her make-believe play and adventures (whether they liked it or not!), and she learned so much from the time she was given to learn and explore on her own.
One of the things she used to love to do was play with play dough. To help inspire her to be creative and try new things, I often gave her different odds and ends to use with her play dough.
On one occasion, I gave her some popsicle sticks and buttons. After a while, she called me over to look at her creation–a magical fairy house. As I was admiring it, I was struck by how creative she was because she had time to play and use her imagination.
I think this stood out to me so much because I had the opposite experience growing up going to public school and again when I was a school teacher before I became a mom.
It’s Not Necessary to Rush from One Activity to Another
When I was in school, we lined up to go to class, sat and listened to the teacher present a lesson, did a worksheet, lined up again to go to the bathroom or to lunch, returned to class and listened to more lessons, raised our hands to answer questions, did more worksheets, lined up again to get on the bus, and started over again the next day. There just wasn’t much room for creativity.
I should stop and explain that I don’t have anything against worksheets. In fact, they can be fun. And some children love doing them! And yes, even worksheets can be used to inspire creativity in our children. (If you’ve never been to our sister site, Only Passionate Curiosity, you should take a look! We offer all kinds of worksheets, activities, and hands-on ideas.)
School teachers usually have so many children in their classrooms and so many required subjects and benchmarks to meet that it’s almost impossible for them to spend time allowing their students to be creative.
When I taught school, I remember constantly rushing my children to finish one lesson or activity so we could move on to another. I remember wishing they had time to write creative stories, make fun paper mache creations to go along with books we were reading, or go for a walk to see the beautiful golden leaves on the ginkgo biloba tree just down the sidewalk from the school.
Flexible Schedules and Lessons
As homeschoolers, though, we can be much more flexible with our schedules and lessons. Our children have more time to play, do crafts and activities, play instruments, dance, create (and act out) plays, cook or bake, play games, pursue art, or develop and follow whatever other passions they have!
They have time to play outside, build forts, and go on nature walks. There is time for uninterrupted pretend play. Or, if your children play sports or play an instrument, they can devote time to practicing.
Since my kids had so much free time compared to other kids their age, I found that time to play led to their huge imaginations! When I started homeschooling years ago, I truly had no idea how homeschooling inspires creativity in kids, but it was a beautiful thing watching it happen!
10 Practical Ways to Inspire Creativity in Kids
If you need a little inspiration yourself, try something that makes it easy for you to get started. For example, our article, How to Homeschool Art, shares all kinds of ideas for doing art with your children. It even includes ideas for incorporating art into school subjects.
If you’re not already incorporating art into your homeschool, I think you’ll find that it’s a great way to allow your kids to be creative and to make homeschooling more fun in the process. And it’s true that we retain more of what we learn if we have fun while we’re learning.
Of course, incorporating art into your homeschool isn’t the only way to encourage creativity in your kids! There are many more ways to do it. I’ll list a few ideas here. I think you’ll find that, as you begin using these ideas, you’ll naturally come up with even more creativity-building ideas as it becomes a habit. And if you have ideas to add, be sure to leave a comment so others can try your idea too!
1. Ask your kids open-ended questions.
You can do this while homeschooling, during playtime, while eating a meal together as a family, or any other time.
2. Read books together.
Reading books can help improve not only the imagination but also problem-solving skills (which often require a creative approach). After reading, talk about the book, the characters, the setting, etc. Ask open-ended questions like I mentioned above.
3. Be a good example for your kids.
Let your kids see you building something, creating a piece of art, sewing or knitting, playing an instrument, playing games, etc.
4. Encourage your kids to be brave and try new things.
Make sure your children understand that they will make mistakes and that it’s ok when that happens! Demonstrate and discuss the fact that doing something new is a learning experience no matter the result. And, when things do go wrong, it’s a chance to try out some creative problem-solving skills.
5. Teach your children to ask questions.
Admittedly, many children ask lots of questions! But as they get older, they tend to ask fewer questions. Instead (as far as school work is concerned) do what’s required and move on. Encourage your children to ask questions and look for answers. Go down rabbit trails. Doing these things will inspire creativity in your kids and make school and learning much more fun and memorable.
6. Allow your children to get bored.
This may sound like a strange suggestion, but we shouldn’t try to keep our children entertained all the time. If we do, we’re stifling their motivation and opportunity to use their imaginations to find something fun to do. Instead of offering ideas when your children are bored, let them come up with their own.
7. Show them examples so they can come up with ideas.
Yes, I just said to allow your kids to get bored so they can come up with their own creative ideas. But it’s also ok (some of the time) to give them examples that will help spark their own creative ideas.
For example, if you want your children to learn to write a haiku, read some example poems to them first. Then help them brainstorm topics to use for their own poems. This will help set them up for success. Why? Because giving a child a blank sheet of paper, a pencil, and a writing assignment often inspires a feeling of being overwhelmed! That’s not the feeling we’re trying to encourage.
8. Give them plenty of free time.
Yes, our kids need some structured time. They need to learn to set goals, follow instructions, and be orderly. But they also need time to explore outside, create artwork or make crafts, sing and dance, play games, and do handicrafts.
9. Teach them the process you go through in your mind when you have a problem to solve.
Children (obviously) have not lived as long as adults, so they just haven’t yet had the years of experience we have. Over the years, we have (and will continue to have) many chances to be creative as we solve problems.
Yes, our children will develop their own problem-solving processes as they grow up. It’s also a good idea to share your own processes with them. Your ideas may be some that they wouldn’t have thought about for many years (if at all).
And, if we admit our mistakes, they can learn to admit and learn from theirs too. We want them to see mistakes as lessons they can learn from–not as failures.
10. Help them get involved in clubs, lessons, or activities with friends.
Sometimes working with others can be a source of inspiration. At times, our kids need to experience things for themselves rather than be taught a lesson. Experiences often teach in a much more memorable way, and they’re often much more inspirational and more fun!
For example, my son used to love to play with Legos. He enjoyed playing with them by himself, and he often made buildings or fences to use as homes for the small toy animals he liked to play with. But when he played Legos with his cousin, he saw how his cousin used Legos to make airplanes or boats or cars, so he started to branch out and get more creative too.
Yes, a good academic foundation is important, but I hope you are inspired by ways to inspire creativity in kids after reading this article! And if you have more ideas and tips for us, please share them in the comments. We would love to hear from you!