Dr. Susan Daniels

Dr. Susan Daniels

Everyone has creative potential! Yes, that’s right. We are all born with the innate capacity for creative activity. Just think of young children ages two to five. They explore, question, wonder, experiment, test, investigate, combine, separate, dramatize, invent, try out, try on, play, imagine, visualize, dream, adapt, build, embellish, exaggerate, transform, personify, construct, pretend, improvise, revise, discover, express, decorate, elaborate, renovate, renew — and more — each and every day. Children approach their world as young inventors, explorers, engineers, architects, artists, musicians, dancers, and actors. They use the skills and habits of scientists and artists in their play, and their play is their work.

Yet by the fourth grade, their creative outlook often dwindles. Some children begin tearing up their papers, saying, “It’s just not right!” A number of them stop taking appropriate risks and ask with ever-increasing frequency, “Teacher, is this right?” or “Mom, does this look good?”

So what happens? Well, in part, school teaches conformity, which is necessary but which comes at a price. Young children must learn rules for safety and for appropriate behavior in school. Certain content and skills must be learned at each grade level and then assessed for mastery. Exploration gives way to memorization and getting the right answer on a variety of quizzes and tests. Research clearly shows that creativity can be taught, yet in the majority of today’s schools, it isn’t. As students progress through the grades, learning is directed more and more toward convergent thinking — which is essential to academic success — and less and less toward divergent thinking, which is essential to creativity.

Next month, Great Potential Press will release Raising Creative Kids, the new book by Dr. Dan Peters and mnyself. The book is filled with time-tested, research-based strategies for nurturing and preserving your child’s creativity. The above is a sample; the book is packed with strategies, activities and recommendations. Stay tuned for more information or preorder from Great Potential Press.

— Dr. Susan Daniels, PhD., Co-Founder and Educational Director