Home Life by Bev and Phil Haas
I guess most parents think their kids are smart, but I’m concerned as I see my children regress in their thinking and creativity as they go through school. Yet they do very well on the school’s standardized testing. My children are complaining about being bored. Is it time for a change in schools?
Creativity in children encourages free expression, problem solving skills, and open thinking. Like other areas of children’s development, creativity needs to be nurtured in order to thrive. With an emphasis on state mandated testing, creativity and open thinking are often left on the sidelines.
Have your children tested to see if they qualify for gifted education programs or enrichment. While gifted education is not mandated by most states, many schools serve the needs of gifted children. Perhaps your children don’t need a change in schools; instead, they may need a change in how they are taught and evaluated.
Partner with Teachers
Talk with your children’s teachers and ask for their input. Be quick to listen (James 1:19) to what the teacher has to offer. Don’t be critical; it will only put the teacher on the defensive. Instead, ask what can be done to enrich your child’s learning experience. Let teachers see you as a partner.
Be Aware of Multiple Intelligences
Howard Gardner introduced the concept of multiple intelligences (linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, intrapersonal, and interpersonal) into the field of education. For example, as a language arts teacher, Bev is linguistically gifted, but you don’t want her picking out wall paint for your house or deciding if that couch will fit through the door. Although she is spatially challenged, she can use a measuring tape and follow the advice of others.
By asking a teacher to apply Gardner’s multiple intelligences in assessing your child’s knowledge, he will be able to use flexible thinking and be creative. For example, after Bev’s students read their class novel, they are given multiple presentation options to demonstrate their knowledge and application of what was learned. One student wrote and performed a song from a character’s point of view; another choreographed a dance to represent the mood of the novel and its main character. Others wrote poetry, created visuals, published a newspaper, developed a newscast, and made games.
Look Beyond the Classroom
Look beyond the classroom to what you can do with your children at home as well. Never underestimate the value of play in the lives of your children. Playtime fosters mental, physical, and social development. Let the play be the result of your children’s ideas. Keep lots of art supplies available and give them frequent opportunities to experience and explore expressive materials.
Read to your children (or have them read) to foster their creativity and thinking. According to the National Network for Childcare, reading can increase vocabulary, stimulate imagination, sharpen observation skills, enhance listening skills, promote self-confidence and self-esteem, and contribute to the child’s problem solving skills.
Select toys that can be used in a variety of ways. Some good examples of open-ended toys are blocks and other building materials, dress-up clothes, vehicles, dolls, or a toy kitchen. For older children, there are electronic manipulatives.
Encourage children to think for themselves whenever possible. Jesus was adept at asking questions that encouraged his followers to think (Mark 8:27-30). Bev keeps asking her students, “What do you think?” “Where can you find that answer?” “Do you need my help?” General Patton said, “If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking.” Ask questions that do not have a black and white answer. Good examples of open-ended questions are “what if” questions: “What do you see?” “What do you feel?” “How can you improve or change this?” Along with asking children questions, encourage them to ask questions.
Pulling your children out of their current school may seem like the best solution, but we would encourage you to try the suggestions above before deciding to do this. You may be surprised by the positive changes that will occur if you partner with the teachers at school and facilitate more creative learning at home.
Send your questions about family life to Phil and Bev Haas in care of The Lookout, 8805 Governor’s Hill Drive, Suite 400, Cincinnati, OH 45249, firstname.lastname@example.org.We regret that personal replies are not always possible. Phil and Bev Haas are involved in education and family ministry in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are the parents of two children, and they have one grandson.