Creativity--we all want our kids to have it. But how do you actually teach creativity? The answer, to some extent, is that you don't. Rather, you leave room for it.
Case in point: The heartwarming, faith-in-humanity-restoring story of nine-year old Caine from East LA who, with nothing but some cardboard and a healthy dose of boredom, built a phenomenally imaginative arcade in his dad's garage. The story went viral as the web short Caine's Arcade and has spawned a proliferation of Caine imitators of all ages building their own cardboard creations. (Watch the follow-up video to be blown away by what kids come up with when given a dash of inspiration and some cardboard.) It also sparked a foundation--the Imagination Foundation--which is hosting the Global Cardboard Challenge, where communities are encouraged to organize their own cardboard-inspired events on the one-year anniversary of the flashmob at Caine's original arcade. You and your family can host your own Cardboard Challenge event in your own home.
So, what can we learn from Caine's story about tapping into our children's creativity?
(1) Don't be afraid of unscheduled time.
We're programmed to believe that filling out children's hours with activities is the best thing for them, but let's not forget how enriching free time can be. You'll be surprised how your child manages to fill it.
(2) A little bit of encouragement can go a long way.
Of course, Caine ultimately had a more than a little bit of encouragement, but it's important not to overlook the support Caine received from his lovable and loving father and the sheer delight he got from having just one paying customer.
(3) Kids inspire kids.
Caine is the best role model for kids his age precisely because they are kids his age. Find examples of creative kids in your community and point them out to your child. Check out inspiring stories of young people who started ventures in their own communities in this e-book Stories of Change. Or start with Caine himself! Watch Caine's Arcade with your child and leave her time, space, and materials to let her imagination run rampant.