THINK OUT OF THE BOX
Readers at a recent Simply Her workshop learnt how to help their kids develop creative thinking skills. CHERYL LEONG shares tips from the expert.
1Help them to be independent learners
If you keep demonstrating how something should be done, chances are, your kids will stick to that “formula” and won’t try to find solutions on their own. “Instead of showing them, get them to work with their friends or siblings. By sharing ideas and coming up with solutions, they learn how to think creatively and independently,” says Shanna-Mae.
2Opt for open-ended activities
Save on the colouring books by giving your tykes blank sheets of paper, suggests Shanna-Mae. “Colouring inside the lines is restrictive and doesn’t encourage active imagination. Empower them to think by getting them to create a story with their drawing. Even if they produce a squiggly mess, if they can describe their story to you clearly, it’s a sign that they’ve got imagination and logical thought processes in place.”
3Think of problems as puzzles
Let them develop the mindset that obstacles are merely puzzles that can be solved – and half the battle is won, says Shanna-Mae. “When they get stuck while building things, get them to turn their efforts to decorating instead of forcing themselves to come up with a solution. This is a good way to relax and generate a new flow of ideas without stressing out about achieving results.”
4Let them learn from their mistakes
Most of the time, kids may not listen even if you say that something can’t or shouldn’t be done. So the best way for them to learn is to have hands-on interaction with their environment. Shanna-Mae says: “For example, if you tell them that talcum powder cannot be dissolved in water, unlike Milo or milk, let them try it for themselves. That way, they’ll understand the concept better too.”
5Give them free rein to play
Don’t be in a hurry to stop kids from playing with unconventional “toys”, advises Shanna-Mae. “Mums don’t usually want their kids in the kitchen when they’re cooking. But children love picking up scraps like carrot tops and potato peelings, to make faces or things. You should let them – working with their hands is a form of creative play.”
6Involve the whole family in creative games
Get Junior’s creative juices (and yours!) flowing in activities like writing a storybook and illustrating it together. “A good family activity is the ‘create a shape’ game. Draw a random shape and get everyone to take turns adding one stroke to it to create a new shape. This exercises their creativity and challenges them to come up with something new at every turn,” says Shanna-Mae.
Participants at the workshop trying to solve the creative puzzles introduced by ShannaMae (left).