During the holidays, I had the opportunity to be in California with all six of my grandchildren. After a rousing Wii music game, three of my granddaughters picked up the ukulele and some costumes, then proceeded to serenade the rest of us. One of the adults present called out, “That sounds just awful.” Maybe it did, but the effort impressed me. Here were three girls who were not afraid to take a chance and exhibited great planning strategies. We know how critical it is to teach children thinking skills and to take a chance. Sir Ken Robinson, an expert on creativity, says, “If they don’t know, they will have a go.” Children are natural risk takers, but adults often shut down their comfort level for taking risks. This has great impact on thinking skills and creativity. To encourage taking risks and developing thinking skills, adults should:
1. Allow the “awful music,” realizing that the process the child developed is what should be encouraged, not shut down. Don’t worry about the product.
2. Look for toys and materials that need a process of development. Instead of a coloring book (no thinking there), provide construction paper, scissors and glue (endless process). The end product doesn’t really matter.
3. Encourage an atmosphere of taking risks. Recently, a child I know filled the sink with water and started floating her shoe in the water. I applaud her mother who did not get upset and yell, “What are you doing?” She simply asked calmly, “So, what are you doing with your shoe.” Her daughter said, “Seeing if my shoe can float.” “What did you find out?” asked her mom. After a great discussion they cleaned the mess and dried the shoe.
4. Do projects together. Routinely do projects with the child and allow him to suggest many of the procedures. Even if you know it may not ‘work.’ Trial and error is great for thinking. A wonderful resource book for doing projects is, “The Complete Book of Activities, Games, Stories, etc.” by Pam Schiller and Jackie Silberg.
My granddaughters can serenade me anytime. It was music to my ears as I was thrilled they created a band. The right notes can come later!