Five Ways to Encourage Creative Thinking

Five Ways to Encourage Creative Thinking

Leonard Judge | December 11, 2015 Creativity

Defining creativity is not as straightforward as one might think.

What is it really? Where do we begin and what are we aiming for when we attempt to encourage creative thinking in children?

A common definition for creativity is simply to use one’s imagination to think about and develop original ideas.

1. See things in new ways

When considering strategies to help children in early childhood education environments to think creatively zoom in on ways to help them to think about old things in new ways.

This really is, after all, the goal of creative thinking. We are encouraging them to develop new connections in the brain and stretch the limits.

Bring something to the classroom, that everyone knows and understands well and help the children to think about it in a new way.

Example: Apple
It’s a fruit; we can eat it. What else can we do with it? We can crush it and drink it. We can take out its seeds, plant them, and the apple will become a tree one day. It’s an apple, but it is also a sphere. What about its colour? Are apples always red? The goal — see something common in new and creative ways.

2. Have open-ended group discussions

Have plenty of classroom meetings in which you talk about open-ended subjects. Ask for answers and make sure you encourage and accept all answers as relevant.

Use these discussions to solve problems. Your goal should be to allow students a safe place to say what they feel freely and without threat of censor.


3. Use traditional creative tools

Painting, writing and even reading can encourage creativity. Fill your room with the tools of creative endeavour and provide ample opportunity for children to express themselves in this way.


4. Use the Socratic teaching style often

Lead your children to where you want them to be, but help them to get there on their own using their creative minds.

Sample question: What if you saw an elderly woman in a department store unknowingly drop a $50 bill and walk away? You are the only person who saw it. What would you do?


5. Use magic

Many children respond well to magical, ‘let’s imagine’ exercises. You might ask students to imagine what they would like to be if they were not human. You can also suggest something and then listen to the children’s responses.

Example: If you were not a human but a bird, what would that look like? What would that feel like? What are the problems of being a bird? What are the benefits? How would your life be different if you were a bird? What do birds need to survive? How is this different from and similar to what you need?