“Encourage Your Child’s Creativity”

Today, as we do every month, we got an informative newsletter from our son’s elementary school.

One of the regular sections in the school’s newsletter is entitled "From the Principal’s Office."  This month, that section was a note entitled "Encourage Your Child’s Creativity," with the principal’s tips for doing that.

Here is one of the tips:

"Videos, software programs, and children’s television programs contribute to the development of a child’s sense of creativity."

It left me wondering- is that true? It seems to me that the situation would be just the opposite- that television, videos, and software programs actually replace creativity with pre-conceived icons of life. 

Then again, I can see how children could then mix and match these icons they are fed via video, software, and television into creative play.  I remember when I was a child, I often took my G.I. Joe figures and had them battle the He-Man toys, with my sister’s Strawberry Shortcake dolls cheering them on.  (Of course, when I got older, I just blew up the G.I. Joe guys with firecrackers…)

But is the play really creative when the characters you are using are all trademarked icons from some toy company/production company?

What do you think? Is this sound advice from the principal? Or a load of crock?

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3 Responses to “Encourage Your Child’s Creativity”

  1. Rusty says:

    Jordan,
    Read the book Everything Bad is Good for You. It makes some really interesting points about how video games and tv actually increase our creativity and understanding. Fascinating stuff.

  2. Jordan F. says:

    Rusty:

    That sounds like an interesting book. I should read it with my wife. (This post is based on a discussion we were having last night.)

    As I said, I can actually see how video games and TV can increase our creativity. The problem my wife discussed was how children, rather than “creating” anything, are simply “re-enacting” what they saw on TV or in the video games.

  3. lief says:

    I don’t think that parents should worry that time spent “re-enacting” is time taken from “creating.” As I recall, studies of traditional cultures in Asia and Africa (i.e. where there is/was no television) show that children’s games evolve from imitations and re-eneactment of adult behavior anyway. I don’t see how children can be expected to create unless it is by imitation and variation.

    The problem with TV is that it is a passive activity and kids are rarely being creative while watching it. As in many things, the ancient Greeks probably had the right idea – moderation needs to be exercised. Too many harmful fads, whether its in dieting or parenting, start with overly simplistic rules like “don’t eat any carbs” or “tv is always bad.”

    Besides, the kinds of TV programming available for kids today is amazing. I grew up deciding whether to watch Woody Woodpecker or Bugs Bunny. The cartoons my kids watch today contain little lessons about classical art and music, geography, biology, etc. And the animal shows – they were boring when I was a kid, not any more.

    TV at its best is an opportunity for my kids to observe (positive) people, places, animals and situations that I do not have the time or resources to show them in real life. However, since it is a purely observational activity, I view TV as only an interesting supplement to the more important realities of life – like playing, creating, and learning personal responsibility.

    Video games, I don’t know about…

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