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Want Creative Kids? Let Them Be Creative!

Read through many a-brochure of schools, educational organizations and enrichment centres where they claim to ‘encourage children to be creative’… and observe. For many, the preach usually isn’t matching up with the act.

Having been running an educational company (and having taught in many places around the world)  for nearly two decades, I can tell you, that the ones hindering our children from truly being creative… are us. Us; the educational providers, leaders, educators AND parents.

What does it mean ‘to be creative’?
Well, in my definition, it is to be inspired, be able to create, develop and maybe, produce. That last word… ‘produce’ is where many schools, teachers and even parents get stuck at. And that’s why our kids can never truly be allowed to be creative or express themselves. We put too much emphasis on the end product. The ‘produce’.

If we really want to empower our children and allow them to become who they are meant to be; we must allow them to experience the processes, the challenges, the trials, the risks, and the failures. Why so? Because being creative is also letting them know that it’s okay to fail… and if you think about it, creativity is a by-product of failure.

Why again? Because society has set upon a certain standard. An expectation, and if we don’t always meet it, we think we have failed. So we have been failing. Alot. But guess what? Creativity isn’t about meeting anyone else’s expectations.

It is about letting the child meet their expectations. And if they fail, let them know that in life, the only failure is never to try, risk, experience, contribute, and strive towards their experiences and goals.

I run Stage for Kids Global; and I’ve had schools asking me if I vet my trainers’ year-end performance scripts. Would anyone like to ponder upon, and think why that’s counter-creative empowerment?
How is a CEO supposed to inspire, cultivate and empower his staff, and all of the children in my program to be as creative as possible when I am expected to check their scripts and lines, actions and character-roles, and directorial efforts?
Even without vetting, there will be a performance, no?
Without vetting, kids get to be comfortable and grow in confidence with their efforts, no?
The trainers get to work with the children based on what they have created together, no?

What was I supposed to vet? Every. Single. Word? Every. Single. Facial. Expression?
It frustrates me.

Fellow educators, leaders and parents; we are at an age where creativity is not only crucial to one’s professional success… it is also an important skill for survival.
And when we have to ‘manage’, ‘control’, or ‘vet’ their creative process, journey, and even ‘product’… we are doing them a disservice. It no longer becomes their creative process; it becomes ours.

Stick with wanting the kids to be creative; and that means expecting imperfections, expecting performances on stage or on video that are less than Academy-worth or maybe even… laughable, or an art work that is overly abstract it looks like blotches of random colours – but hey, those are the genuine, real, creative work of your child. You want creativity. That’s it.

Yes – skill must and will be taught – but remember; we can learn everything under the sun… but if we like black on red, only black on red will help us grow and help us be who we are meant to be: our creative self.

How do we truly allow an organic and unrestricted journey of creative expression in our children?
1. Allow them to try, and allow them to fail.
2. Get involved in their experiences; this includes allowing them to try all that they want to try. If you can’t get involved, at least be there with them, or allow them to join a program of their choosing that really encourages creativity and self-expression.
3. Enjoy and praise your child’s end product – whatever form that may be. If you don’t understand the product – ask. Ask kindly, and without judgment. And learn from the answer received. Take the answer and build upon it. Develop that seed. THAT is truly allowing our children to learn to be creative and expressive. Learning from them, and their product. And learning their pleasure and happiness from their efforts.

Not from what we want to see, or from what effort we have forced ourselves and on our children. We’re raising people, not robots or systems.

(ps. Drama is also creativity. It is a part of Performance Art).

 

Emil Antoan, aka Teacher Emil
is the Founder, CEO and Principal Trainer
for Stage for Kids Global, Stage for Kids International, & Inspiration for Kids International
Follow Teacher Emil on Youtube (/inspirationforkids)
on Twitter @i_forkids & Podcast: inspiration for kids
visit www.StageforKids.com

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