The 100th Day of School: Creativity Lessons from a 7-Year Old
March 22, 2011 1 Comment
My son came home the other week with a homework assignment. To celebrate the 100th day of school, his teacher asked each student to represent the number 100 in a creative way. His teacher provided suggestions like drawing a picture, or gathering 100 small objects and presenting them in an unexpected manner.
This assignment, which I thought would be a lot of fun, turned out to be a difficult task for both of us. My son bristled at having to “be creative” saying he didn’t know how. After many attempts to get him going, I began to get frustrated. The assignment seemed easy enough, right? But, no matter what I tried, my son was stumped for ideas.
I thought I could encourage my son to start his project by creating a game plan. I asked, “What are all the things we can make? What can we show with 100? What small objects can we use?” But, no matter how many ways I tried, I couldn’t get him to start the project. Then, I realized in my excitement to help my son, I had stopped listening. I wasn’t paying attention to his non-verbal cues.
Once I was able to truly listen, I saw how antsy he was and realized the key to success was to stop planning and to just get started. Turns out my son prefers getting into action rather than planning.
By encouraging him to just dig in, we were able to gain traction. He grabbed the nearest materials (which turned out to be bendy straws) and counted out 100 of them. Then, he piled them into 25′s and taped each bundle. For the last step he bent the top of the straws. Lastly, he stepped back and critically examined his creation and declared, “they look like rocket ships.” And, if you take a look at the picture in this post you might agree straws make pretty good rocket ships.
What did I learn?
- Asking someone to “be creative” can be a show stopper
- When creating, some prefer to have a plan and others prefer to explore
- To encourage creative thinking, it is easiest to work within a person’s preferred style
- Listening means paying close attention to non-verbal cues
- Next time my son brings home a project, I will follow his cue
So, after a bumpy start, we were both very proud of the rocket ships. After all the effort, when his teacher asked, “Where did you get the idea to use straws?” My son shrugged his shoulders and said nonchalantly, “that was the only thing we had 100 of in the house.”
And, that’s that. Creativity lessons from a 7-year old.