How to ignite creativity

All kids are full of creative juices just waiting to flow.  They may not be talented at everything, but give them a box of crayons and they instantly know what to do with it. Give that box of crayons to an adult and just wait for the deer-in-the-headlight look. You want me to do what? Draw? I can’t draw. No five-year old is ever going to tell you he can’t draw.

My five-year old loves to draw every day, without prompting. He can’t wait to come back from school every day to draw with his colored pencils, since his school desk only features Crayola crayons, which are useless for any detailed drawing if you ask me. He also loves making up stories, usually involving warriors of some kind, maybe pirates or astronauts. Here’s one of his latest artistic renditions. Superman’s red laser eyes was a nice touch. I say, not bad, for a kid who’s not even six.

Superman drawing

Superman drawing

My son happens to be in a kindergarten / first grade combo class and gets to stay very busy during the day doing the kindergarten work, then the first grade work, then the optional work. After a few months of formal schooling, he’s realized he can not only draw, but also write down his thoughts and ideas.

He recently started writing a long story at school during his independent study time. He wrote it on lined paper, without drawing a single picture. He used both sides of his paper but still wasn’t done. That’s when his teacher offered him to cut up some paper and staple it together like a small book. He was thrilled and rewrote his whole story on this new book format, leaving blank pages to draw across the text. He wrote the story at school, then brought the book home and drew all the illustrations (remember, we have the good colored pencils). Here’s the front cover of “The Ninja and the Samurai” (we’re still working on spelling beyond phonics). That night he read his book to his brother and me. Sweet.

The Ninja and the Samurai book

The Ninja and the Samurai book

The next day, he brought his completed book back to school and asked his teacher if he could read it in front of the whole class. Er, how many of us adults would volunteer to read our book out loud in front of our peers? I’m sure he was beaming with pride.

Well, today his teacher came over to tell me that, by reading his book in front of the class and showing his peers how he wrote it (he used an outline, ha! Carrie at The Write Transition will love to hear that), he inspired at least half of his classmates to write their own books. How cool is that???

I thanked his teacher last week for allowing my son to write his book in class and she mentioned storywriting was an option, but no other kid took advantage of it but my son. This week he managed to inspire half his class to let their creative juices flow. Talk about positive peer influence!

Now for the sad part, I should note my son just finished writing his very first book, while I still haven’t written a single page of mine. How pathetic is that? Oh, wait a minute. I actually feel quite inspired. But let me grab a glass of wine first. I need some creative juices of my own.

26 responses to “How to ignite creativity

  1. What a cool kid! He obviously inherited your creative talents. What is so impressive is that he stuck with it and actually finished the book. My son started writing a book in first grade, but it ended in an unfinished cliff hanger. And what a great teacher to be so supportive.

    Thanks for the mention and for the laugh. I always appreciate both. :)

    • Thank you! He writes new short stories every day and they’re usually about a life struggle (firemen facing a huge fire, diver facing a sea monster…), just like so many books out there!

      You should have seen how excited his teacher was sharing the news yesterday. I think she was very surprised at the influence he had on the whole class. That really tells you how much more interesting classrooms could be if we were more child-centered once in a while.

      • So true! My kids did/do the Montessori schooling thing, and it is very child-centered. A little granola-ish, but I can live with that.

      • Oh, Montessori… I thought about going for it but quickly changed my mind after visiting a preschool. Watching three and four-year olds sitting quietly at their desks working on their “tasks” individually over and over was not my idea of a fun morning. :-( But I think if you mix a little bit of all teaching theories out there, you’ll end up with something really good.

      • Every Montessori school is different. Luckily the one near us is one of the best. Their middle school is well-known, and teachers from around the world come to visit it. We’re very fortunate.

      • Good for you! I always go with my gut feeling for this kind of decisions.

  2. Milka…you need to be the poster child for awesome mothering! Your son’s art is AMAZING! His story-writing/telling is FANTASTIC! I guess reading to your children on a daily basis was a pretty good idea. :)

    It’s sad that so many adults think they can’t draw or sing or whatever…products of parents or teachers who squashed their creative juices, I’m afraid.

    This is a wonderful post! You do need to put aside a little time for your writing…you do it beautifully!!!

    • Thanks, Vivian! My son has always had a wild imagination so it’s easy to nurture it. But I agree with you that most parents and teachers do a great job at crushing creativity. I loved writing stories and drawing as a child but was told over and over I wouldn’t make a living with any of it and would need to focus on more “important” subjects. No need to say, it’s taken me 35 years to be back to square one and rekindle this part of me. It’s not easy to do but I won’t forgive myself if I don’t try it now!

      • Yup…it has happened to many of us…as Nike says…just do it!!!! You are an amazing writer…entertaining, funny and genuine. :) I look forward to reading your picture book/YA novel/romance/mystery/non-fiction book whenever you write it. :)

      • How did you know about my book idea? That’s exactly how it is in my head. I have some children’s book ideas (both chapter and picture books) and some adult books (fiction and non fiction). Argh, where to start? Actually I want to work on creating an online photo gallery so I can try to sell my photos. Never a dull moment…

      • :) Whatever you do, if it makes you feel more complete, it is the right thing!

    • By the way, wait till you read tomorrow’s post to compliment me for my mothering skills. You might change your mind! ;-)

      • Hahaha…I will definitely check it out…but, as your blog title says, Perfecting Motherhood doesn’t mean being Perfect…it just means loving our kids and being the best we can be for them…and sometimes we make mistakes. :)

  3. This is so AWESOME! He’s a talented little guy! :D

  4. I love this story! I love how the teacher encouraged him in his storywriting, and I just love kids all the way around–for their enthusiasm, confidence, and inspiration to us adults. Thanks for the uplift.

  5. Not only creative, but confident with it. That’s exactly the way to go. ;-)

  6. Pingback: Parenting Blog Award: The Positive Parental Participation Blog Award « Positive Parental Participation

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