Cultivating Creativity

Creativity is a core part of our spiritual DNA; God is the original Creator and He established us to work with Him in releasing creativity into the world.  This is something we are designed for.

Creativity is not about arts and crafts; it’s about being alive in God’s possibilities, developing imagination, making new connections, and exploring passions.

Creativity is working out the uniqueness planted within each child… Isn’t it amazing to think that we are each a new expression of something the world has never seen before?

Our homes are each like a mini Noah’s ark, preserving and caring for something important that the world needs in coming seasons.  We fertilize passion-seeds now, that change the world in the future.

We teach our children to creatively redeem and refresh culture. It’s one of our greatest opportunities as parents. It starts small, by just letting them play, experiment, and make things, but it expands over time to include literally everything we do.  Life is a continuous and growing opportunity to bring forth art, “life art”, to create something that has never existed before.

Eph 2:10 says: “We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

He uses us to deliver more goodness into the world!

And what’s awesome is, God will direct the process.  I love the verse in Isaiah (54:13): “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.”

When we are looking to God to lead us in guiding our children in creativity, He will teach them, and they will know great peace because they are operating in their true design, out of their true purpose.  

Here are three keys to making home a place of creativity.  I’ll use the acronym “ART” to expand.  (My husband, helpfully, suggested my acronym start with ‘Family’…)

A is for Attitude
Our attitude as parents is key. It establishes the freedom for our children to explore and handle life; so, we make home a place of safety, encouragement and freedom.

Modelling creativity helps create this safety for the child. He sees Mom trying new things, making mistakes and trouble-shooting; our child tries for himself and makes mistakes. We work with him, but without doing it all for him. Any little effort he puts in, no matter how flawed, we find the good in it and speak it out. “Good job, honey!! – I’ve never seen so many pieces of paper taped together like that!”

We resist the temptation to control and micromanage. We resist the fear that their dreams and imaginations are not productive.

Learning to move with a child’s delight and motivation is a skill that can be cultivated as we learn to trust what God is doing in our children’s lives – God expressing His creative DNA in them.  When our attitude is positive and directed toward freedom and encouragement, our children are free to explore.

R is for Resources

So, what types of materials and opportunities are going to encourage creativity?

Good “open play” toys like blocks, Lego, costumes, and a well-stocked craft cupboard are a good place to begin for younger children.

At the same time, overwhelming our space with too much clutter can over-stimulate children.  We’ve gotten into a flexible rotating system that keeps toys seeming special because they only come out a few times each season.

Also, allowing for a measure of “waste” seems to be a part of the recipe for building creative people. If I am constantly interfering with my children’s creative activities by making sure they don’t waste anything, they quickly end up losing interest.

We try to model good stewardship, but being stingy on resources has caused the children to lose interest really quickly. The more we’ve relaxed about potential waste, the more we’ve seen creativity blossom.

T is for Time (and Space)

Children need opportunities to get into a state of flow where they can fully engage an activity as long as they need to handle it from all sides. One of our sons probably used 20 sheets of paper one morning drawing the same cartoon character over and over again until he mastered it.

So, where routine is important in a day, true creativity is hard to schedule into small time slots. Our family has two hours of unstructured rest time every afternoon where the children follow their own creative interests without any time pressures. Rest time has resulted in some of their most innovative projects.

Regarding space: this is almost an impossible puzzle because to be creative, children need to be able to make a mess. Power struggles that result from keeping everything orderly shut down the creative process for children.

What gets impossible, is that they won’t work in a space that is not tidy… they constantly move to a clean space and create another mess! We need to sense when they’ve moved on from an activity, then call them back and work with them to clean up, because we need to make that space clear for the next time they’re ready for it!

The older children have more ownership for their independent spaces. But, they need the freedom to leave their projects out if they’re not done… this keeps the creative momentum going over the course of a few days or weeks.

We mustn’t be afraid or embarrassed of mess that spills out from active imaginations; this is life happening; this is learning and creativity unfolding in real time.

So, today I leave you with ART: A for an Attitude of encouragement and freedom, minimizing control; Then R for Resources that inspire, but come from a place of balance – not too much, not too little; T as the allotment of Time and space that creates the physical setting for the creative process.

Hopefully, this encourages you a wee bit as you consider how your own home can become an ark of potential in a time desperately needing creative solutions to big problems!

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