Help your child understand our Core Values
Why is Creativity So Important?
What child doesn’t love to spend a rainy day doodling, making up a story, or playing pretend? These types of creative activities are more than just fun: they can have profound and lasting benefits on your child’s health.
Creativity can improve your brain’s cognitive abilities. Plus, according to research, creative thinking can help our brains develop neural connections and learn new concepts.
Additionally, creative activities can improve your child’s mood and well-being. When people are focused on a creative project, they are more likely to feel happier.
The “whys” for teaching children to be creative are clear: it leads to stronger emotional and brain health.
8 Ways to Boost Creativity as a Family
1. Teach children to ask “what if” questions.
Teaching children to ask, “What if?” to enhance their creativity. If you can get your children to ask questions about the world and how it works, they’re more likely to come up with their own unique answers. E.g. What if animals could suddenly talk? What if there really were pots of gold at the ends of rainbows?
2. When mistakes happen, try to find the positives.
Your child may feel discouraged if they don’t succeed the first time they try something. But mistakes often teach us more than success and can encourage your child to try new, creative solutions.
If your child is struggling with a learning concept, try to help them see it in a different light. For example, if your child is working to learn a new vocabulary word, you could try spelling it out to the tune of their favourite song.
3. Learn about and encourage your child’s interests.
When children are passionate about a subject, they’re more likely to put their heart into it. Get to know your child’s creative dream, and help them to pursue it. If your child wants to learn to draw, for example, spend an afternoon drawing together and celebrate their progress.
4. Ask your child open-ended questions.
Asking your child questions can boost creativity as much as getting them to ask questions themselves. Asking open-ended questions—questions that require an answer longer than “yes” or “no”—can help children learn to form their own ideas and develop creative thinking.
5. Spend time outside.
Getting out in nature is not only good for mental health—it can improve creativity, too. Research shows that spending time outdoors can enhance curiosity, encourage flexible thinking, and help you recharge.
Next time you have chance (even if it is raining or snowing), go on a walk around your neighbourhood to refresh your child’s mind and give them a good brain boost.
6. Encourage free time and creative play.
Give your child a little time each day to independently explore their own ideas and interests. Additionally, make time for creative play—or free time that encourages curiosity or creative thinking.
7. Teach your child to try creative risk-taking.
If your child is working on a creative project, encourage them to try something new—even if they’re not sure it will work out.
Teaching your child to take creative risks can help them focus more on the creative process than the outcome. That way, even if a project doesn’t turn out how they expected, they’re learning to try something different and think from new angles.
8. Read together.
Did you know that reading can boost your child’s imagination and problem-solving skills? Make a goal to read a picture or chapter book together every day.
Help your child show courage.
Courage is an important aspect of each child’s character development. Being brave in the face of fear and doing what needs to be done even when it is really hard are both examples of courage.
Courage involves making good choices in the face of fear or try new things even if they are scared. It's another term for bravery. Remember: Bravery doesn't mean fearlessness. It means we do not let fear hold us back from exploring new opportunities, developing our skills, and doing what is right.
Children need courage when they:
- , like learning to ride a bike or entering a new social situation.
- even when they are frustrated or other children laugh at their attempts.
- , like standing up for another child who is being left out or teased.
- , like owning up to their poor choices and then apologising and offering to help make it right.
Having courage helps children to persevere against challenges, and in the process it raises their self-esteem. When children feel good about themselves and see that they have the personal power to make courageous choices, they are more likely to lead personally satisfying and successful lives.
How can parents help children to show courage?
Parents are their children’s first and most important teachers and, as such, have a powerful influence on their development. You can:
Use news stories, TV, movies, or books as learning tools.
Encourage them to:
- stand up to peer pressure,
- refuse to go along with the crowd when the crowd is doing something wrong or dangerous,
- master new skills and persist in the face of frustration.
Highlight the positive!
Do not use them as a reason to punish. Create a positive atmosphere that will encourage them to face and admit their mistakes openly and honestly. Teach them what they can do differently and how they can make amends.
All people, and especially children, can better demonstrate courage when they know they are not alone and that they are still loved.
Let them know that they don’t have to face all difficult situations by themselves and that it can be a sign of strength to ask for help.
HELP YOUR CHILD UNDERSTAND JOY
It can be difficult to explain the difference between joy and happiness to children but joy comes naturally to young children. As such, it must, like music, have a biological function, a purpose in human growth.
Joy is an inner feeling. Happiness is an outward expression. Joy endures hardship and trials and connects with meaning and purpose.
Enabling children to experience joy can help support learning and reduce stress and anxiety.
In short, joy supports learning by:
- Encouraging the release of dopamine, which stimulates memory and encourages the release of chemicals in the brain that help to focus attention
- Keeping children alert to new experiences, which they connect with familiar experiences, and
- Ensuring that the amygdala (at the centre of the brain and responsible for feelings) does not need to filter out stressful situations.
How you can help your child experience joy:
- Model joy - Help children to find pleasure in everyday situations, splashing in puddles, a rainbow, dancing to music.
- Show your passion — laugh, sing, dance and just have fun. Celebrate as children achieve. Learn to be more playful. As Alfie Kohn says, don't let others begrudge children opportunities for deep satisfaction and occasional giggles.
- Teach your children about gratitude - Ask them what was their favourite part of the day and what they are thankful for.
- Demonstrate Kindness - One of the greatest joys in life is caring for others. Knowing you have the power to help out another person and bring them happiness is empowering for children. If you want to teach your child joy, teach them to give.
- Teach Your Child to Avoid Negativity - There are many hard things in life. Hard times and difficult tasks. It’s easy to get mired down in negativity when we focus on the bad things. But the reverse is also true. The good in the world and the beauty of everyday life are worth looking for. And are all around us.
Learning to choose joy is something that will benefit your children all of their lives. Joy is the root of contentment and peace. And it helps children develop compassion, empathy, and kindness. All things we could use more of in the world.
Helping your child see the importance of perseverance
Albert Einstein said "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."
What a great quote to help explain the importance of installing perseverance in children's attitude to learning!
Perseverance means having the self-discipline to continue a task despite being confronted with difficulties or unexpected challenges.
Parents can help children in the development of these skills in a number of ways and help their children draw on their own independent learning skills:
1. Give children ample opportunities to use their own initiative. Allowing children the time and space to work through problems independently and develop their own strategies will help them take responsibility for their own learning.
2. Help children become resilient. The ability to bounce back from 'failures' is crucial as children's expectations of their own academic ability may not always be met.
3. Encourage children to have a voice. Children who are able to express their thoughts and opinions clearly will be better prepared to contribute to decisions about the learning they want to undertake.
4. Outline the link between learning goals and outcomes. Showing children that setting learning targets will help them achieve their desired levels should aid them in developing a disciplined attitude towards their school work.
Help your child respect others
Be a good role model
- Are you kind when you speak to others?
- How do you manage your own emotions?
- When you need to raise a concern are you calm and fair?
- Do you show in your actions and actions that you welcome people who are different to you?
- Are you kind and respectful online? Do you think before you post?
Young children do not have a fully developed sense of empathy (understanding how others may be feeling). You can support this by talking about and naming your own feelings, and helping your child name their own feelings. Create an environment where all feelings are accepted, even difficult ones like sadness and anger. Encourage your child to express them in appropriate ways, for example, taking deep breaths when angry or cuddling a favourite toy when sad.
Reading stories together is an excellent way to boost empathy skills. Whilst reading you can discuss with your child what they think the characters are feeling. You can extend this with role play or by using puppets.
Early social skills
Young children are just starting out in the complex world of relationships and they need our help.
Find moments for practicing social skills such as turn taking or saying 'please' and 'thank you', through playing board games together as a family, or practice using simple role play, such as playing 'shop'.
Instead of seeing conflict and challenging actions (such as snatching toys) as negative behaviour, re-frame these as opportunities for learning, and help your child practice these skills.
Friendships and relationships
Show an interest in your child's friendships and encourage positive social interaction. With older children, be cautious not to intervene too much. Allow them to experience the ups and downs of friends and to seek your guidance as required.
Read books and watch age-appropriate television shows and films with strong friendship themes. Discuss what being a 'good friend' and being 'respectful' means to them and to you. With older children this could also be an opportunity to discuss respect, boundaries and consent in relationships and what healthy and unhealthy relationships might look like.
Read Kidscape's free resource, A Parent's Guide to Friendship.
Support your child to understand that getting on and falling out with others is normal - you can still be friends even if you do not always agree or do not want to play together. Help them learn to disagree respectfully and negotiate with their friends. They may need your help with specific words that they can use in difficult situations, eg. "I'm busy now. Maybe we can play later", instead of "go away". You can practice these through role play - talk about the difference between passive, aggressive and assertive communication.
When conflicts arise, gently coach your child to problem solve and find their own solutions. You may need to help them to:
- identify the feelings that resulted in their behaviour
- think of more appropriate ways of managing those feelings
- consider the other person's viewpoint and be accountable for their actions
- think of a way to put things right with the other person
Model ways of dealing with conflict appropriately. For example, walking away to calm down or practicing deep breathing.
Model assertiveness in your interactions with others and encourage your child to do the same. Use 'I' statements to express your needs and practice posture and assertive body language, eye contact and saying 'no'.
Discuss what bullying behaviour looks like and what they could do if they witness an incident of bullying. Encourage them to become upstanders and speak out.
Part of a team
From an early age, create a sense of belonging, and a home environment that focuses on working together. For example, involve children in activities such as cooking dinner, or laying the table. Make sure that this is part of normal family life rather than something done for reward.
Help children learn how to compromise, working together with others to come up with a solution that meets everyone's needs, "how can we work this out together?"
With older children, you could encourage involvement in the local community eg. looking out for elderly neighbours, undertaking voluntary work. Think about 'random acts of kindness'.
Promote activities that involve teamwork. Extra-curricular activities such as Guiding or Scouting, and some sporting activities may help with this.
Play games that involve cooperation rather than winning and losing.
Help children become aware of, explore and question differences in gender, ethnicity, language, religion and disability. For example by reading books about children in other countries, listening to diverse music, sampling food from other countries. Avoid stereotyping, such as saying that certain toys or clothes are for boys or girls. Answer your child's questions honestly and accurately. 'Check-in' with your own language and behaviour to ensure that it isn't prejudiced or derogatory.
Encourage your child's self-respect and self-esteem. Support them to value their uniqueness, and the special qualities and skills that makes them, 'them'.
Talk to your child about their online world and show an interest in what they are getting up to online. Encourage them to communicate on social media with as much respect as they would do face-to-face. Discuss what they could do if they saw something they were not comfortable with online.
If you have concerns about your child's relationships with others, speak to the school. They may have activities or programmes that they could put in place.