To turn young kids into problem solvers, they just need exposure to lots of situations where they can practice solving actual problems. Thankfully, these kinds of situations arise constantly between younger kids. When you see such a situation unfold, always remember to ask kids, “how might YOU solve that problem?”.
“I have no more white paint!” “And how might you solve that problem?” “Um… I could ask Ms. Julie for more.”
“Scott won’t share glue with me!” “And how might you solve that problem?” “Uhh, I could ask him to share with me.”
“I spilled my water!” “And how might you solve that problem?” “I could clean it with some paper towel.”
If a kid says, “I have no more white paint!” and your reaction is automatically “Oh… Sorry! I’ll get more white paint for you,” then you are fixing things for him before he’s had a chance (or the need) to think critically for himself about next steps. Make kids own the next steps and you’ll be setting them up for a lifetime of creative problem-solving! Continue reading And how might you solve that problem?
Process, process, process! While it’s important to help kids understand that creating does involve frustrations and roadblocks, it’s crucial that they focus on what they love about making things too. This helps them know their own strengths and it helps you feed your kid’s creative streak with activities that align with her personality and interests. Continue reading What was the most fun for you about making what you made?
It’s all about the process. Helping a child to understand her own creative process and feel comfortable making creative decisions is one of the MOST important skills you can teach her. This will pay off not only in grade school, but in the new age of work that we are rapidly entering. Seth Godin nailed it in a blog post from a few years back.
“What to do next. This is the most important decision in your career (or even your day). It didn’t used to be. What next used to be a question answered by your boss or your clients. With so many opportunities and so many constraints, successfully picking what to do next is your moment of highest leverage. It deserves more time and attention than most people give it. If you’re not willing to face the abyss of choice, you will almost certainly not spend enough time dancing with opportunity.” -Seth Continue reading How did you choose what to draw/make?
Or as you were creating, what didn’t work out exactly like you thought it would? These questions make it clear to kids that you are already ASSUMING that in the creative process there will be road blocks and dead ends. Normalizing this and getting kids to talk about it will mean that in the long term they will be more creative and more creatively resilient. The alternative is ending up like the guy in this Onion article titled, “Lifelong Dream No Match For First Brush With Adversity.” Haha! Continue reading What was the most challenging part of creating what you’ve made here?
If a kid has created something (on paper, in play-doh, in any medium at all…) here’s one question that you should NOT ask:
“What is it? It looks like a dinosaur.”
Focusing on “What is it?” boxes out tons of creative options. A 4-year old might have been trying to draw a bronto or she might have been putting down colors that she liked together. She might have been making a T-Rex in play-doh or she might have been focused on balancing the chunks on top of each other. But you won’t find out the real creative motivations if you focus only on “What is it?” Or even worse, you might “help” turn the play-doh into the T-Rex of YOUR imagination when the project HAD BEEN about balance. Instead of asking “What is it?” try using “Can you tell me about how you did this?” It leaves all creative directions open. Continue reading Can you tell me about how you did this?