Fostering an Environment of Creativity

Image By Rebecca Angel

The Broadway musical Hamilton is the current obsession of my sister and two nieces. Now, some families would simply play the soundtrack and sing along over and over. But, like me, my sister’s house is a geeky house, so nothing is that simple. They decided to record their own version of the soundtrack, and then make puppets for all the characters, and then film it, calling it “Hand-milton!” That is the perfect example of fostering creativity. And, no, I’m not biased at all…

Intention and emotional involvement are two important aspects in creativity. They are part of the list I highlighted in The Science of Creativity. Intention is a positive process of fulfillment and enjoyment, while emotional investment is being fully immersed in that process. For the very young, this is intuitive and can be seen daily. Look at a four-year-old dressing up like a favorite superhero and acting out that character in the supermarket. But as children age, intention and emotional involvement become more complex. That’s a good thing! How do you foster this?

Creativity has been studied for a long time. One of the early researchers, Mel Rhodes, published a paper that outlined four concepts of creativity:

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  • Person/Producer: the individual that is creative
  • Process: what the creative individual does to be creative
  • Product: what is produced as a result of the creative process
  • Press: the environment in which creative activity takes place

In the case of “Hand-milton,” the first three “Ps” are obvious. The fourth P is the key. As parents, we have to provide the environment to encourage our children’s creativity. I’m not talking about the physical space, which, of course, is important too, but the atmosphere to allow total immersion. Did you let your child wear their superhero costume to the supermarket? If not, why? Kids need to feel comfortable getting lost in their own imagination. Why hand puppets for Hamilton characters? Because that’s what my nieces thought would be fun to make.

Another key piece of environment is leading by example. You can encourage with words, but how are you yourself creative? Do you allow yourself to get into projects with total abandon? Provide yourself with a positive environment of creativity, and your children will see how it’s done. Check out the short video below, which is Part 2 of “Hand-milton.” My sister didn’t just record her kids, but actively took part–even rapping on the soundtrack! Their adult cousin visited one weekend and they roped him into doing the drumming. For my nieces, they are learning that exploring their passions in a creative way is an all-ages, fun activity.

It helps that my sister loves the Hamilton soundtrack as well. But you don’t have to directly participate in your kids’ projects or share your creativity in public. Just flex your imagination on a regular basis with your kids around. How do you bring intention and emotional involvement into your family’s creative life?

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Rebecca Angel

Rebecca Angel was one of those kids that put the dragon book on top of her pile in the hopes that someone would say, "Hey, I'm into that stuff too!" Alas, she had to wait until she was an adult to find fellow geeks. Luckily, she married one and their kids are too. A music teacher by day, Rebecca is also a lover of tea, science literacy, funky tights, RPGs, anime, manga, comics, fantasy books and movies.

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