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Parents should foster kids' curiosity, creativity

Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Do you remember those conversations you had with your children when they were constantly asking, "why?"

They were full of questions. It was tempting at those times to ignore their questions or make up an answer just so they would quit being pests. Thank goodness they ask questions!

Then from the innocent "why" questions it seemed we progressed to the "why not" questions of our teen-agers. Thank goodness there are those who constantly ask, "Why not?"

I believe the conditions of curiosity and creativity needs to, and can, be present in every home and school every day. When children are curious, they learn and ask more questions. When children are creative, they come up with solutions to complex problems.

Sometimes the solutions seem unorthodox, but the fact that your child shows the desire and ability to imagine a solution is a good sign of a child who is comfortable in their surroundings and not afraid to take the next step.

Games are a great way to foster the conditions of curiosity and creativity. Games like Pictionary or Cranium require the players to use their imagination in coming up with the solution. They also allow us to laugh with our children and enjoy each others' creative thoughts.

Demonstrate curiosity by asking questions yourself. Ask your children about their music. If your student plays and instrument, ask your child to teach you how to play their instrument.

One activity I think is a great creative outlet for children is photography. It doesn't take an expensive camera to take good photos. Help your child create a display of their favorite photos for school or in your house.

I think this condition is one of the important ones that can be squashed. We need to guard against eliminating our child's chances to be creative.

At this point please take a moment to reflect on the following questions. Rate yourself by the scale we have been using.

This pertains to my family all the time.

This pertains to my family most of the time.

This does not pertain to my family, but it should.

1. I welcome and encourage questions from my children.

2. I structure learning situations in the home for my children.

3. I am always there for my children when they need me.

4. I share my interests and hobbies with my children.

5. I participate with my children as they find new things to explore.

6. I support my children in their efforts and struggles to solve complex problems.

7. I am a curious individual and let my children see this quality in me.

8. I expose my children to a variety of activities.

9. I make sure my children have free time to play, imagine and create.

10. I listen to my children's thoughts, ideas and suggestions.

Next we make an action plan. Ask yourself the following questions and take some time to jot down your thoughts. These thoughts will be the basis of making a change in your actions.

1. What will I do to let my children know I want them to be inquisitive?

2. What will I do to promote questioning and creative exploration with my children?

3. How can I encourage my children to become involved in new activities and hobbies?

4. How can I encourage family members to participate together in family learning?

5. How can I model the conditions of curiosity and creativity?

6. What are the initial next steps I plan on making in this area?

7. How will I know I have been successful?

Next week brings the spirit of adventure condition. The condition of curiosity and creativity is one of the eight conditions that make a difference in the development of a child's aspirations. The eight conditions and the materials used in this article were developed by the team at The National Center for Student Aspirations.

For more information on aspirations, take time to visit the National Center for Student Aspirations Web site at www.studentaspirations.org.

Hank Overturf, the assistant principal at Kenai Central High School, has 26 years of experience in education. He has been with the Kenai Peninsula School District for 10 years.



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