Get out of their way!

“Kids are born curious. Period…. If you’re a child, you are curious about your environment. You’re overturning rocks. You’re plucking leaves off of trees and petals off of flowers, looking inside, and you’re doing things that create disorder in the lives of the adults around you.


And so then so what do adults do? They say, “Don’t pluck the petals off the flowers. I just spent money on that. Don’t play with the egg. It might break. Don’t….” Everything is a don’t.”

The key point Neil deGrasse Tyson makes?

“Help them explore.”

Set out some binoculars or a magnifying glass or something as equally interesting.. and most importantly get out of their way and let them explore!

I am an ARTIST… video

“… I totally believe that we’re all creative.” 

So do I!

A beautifully inspiring video of artist Danielle Daniel working in her studio. This video perfectly captures the pure joy of creating.

“Teacher, seeker, storyteller, word lover, truth speller, painter and tree hugger. As in one who hugs trees. Learning to take myself less seriously, live in the present, and stand in my light. Trying every day to embrace the good, the bad and the beautiful while learning to get out of my own way to live the life of my dreams.”

Drawn in to learn more about Danielle, I visited her blog to find out that it’s her birthday today and she’s offering 30% off everything in her shop.  I ordered this print called ‘Bosom Friends’ because it sort of reminds me of my girls, one brown haired one almost blondish and how they will grow up to be bosom friends.


David Kelley: How to build your creative confidence

I’ll admit I have a tear in my eye as I write this post about this super touching and powerful talk about the loss of creative confidence that happens in childhood given by David Kelley at Ted earlier this year.  Kelley discusses his battle with cancer and how it inspired him to consider his purpose in life to which he explains:

“the thing i most wanted to do was to help as many people as possible re-gain the creative confidence they lost along the way.

I really believe that when people gain this confidence… they actually start working on the things that are really important in their lives. We see people quit what they’re doing and go in new directions. We see them come up with more ideas so they can choose from better ideas. They make better decisions.”

To help him on his quest, he asks:

  • Don’t let people divide the world into the ‘creatives’ and the ‘non-creatives’.
  • Have people realize they are naturally creative and let their ideas fly.
  • Achieve self-efficacy; Do what you set out to do to reach a place of creative confidence.

The last point: achieve self-efficacy. Seems a little easier said than done, I’d say. According to Psychologist Albert Bandura whom Kelley references in his talk, four factors affect self-efficacy (according to Wikipedia).

1. Experience – Success raises efficacy, while failure lowers it. However “children cannot be fooled by empty praise and condescending encouragement”.  As parents we need to most definitely be aware of that. Instead, children benefit from consistent recognition of real accomplishment.

2. Modeling – When we see someone succeeding, our own self-efficacy increases; when we see people failing, our self-efficacy decreases.

3. Social Persuasion – Manifests as direct encouragement or discouragement from another person. Discouragement is generally more effective at decreasing a person’s self-efficacy than encouragement is at increasing it.

4. Physiological Factors – Perceptions of physiological responses to stressful situations can markedly alter self-efficacy. For example getting ‘butterflies in the stomach’ before public speaking will be interpreted with someone with low self-efficacy as a sign of inability, thus decreasing self-efficacy further, were high self-efficacy would lead to interpreting such physiological signs as normal and unrelated to ability.

Seems to me that as parents there is A LOT WE CAN DO to promote positive self-efficacy in our children. My thoughts are:

  1. Drop the empty praise altogether. Instead give recognition for good work and better yet allow the child to feel good about mastering particular experiences for him or herself before jumping in to say ‘Good Job’!
  2. Provide opportunities for kids to see others succeed. Perhaps it’s as simple as taking them to the park and watching other kids succeed at the monkey bars or spending time at the pool with a relative that’s a good swimmer.
  3. If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. That’s my commentary with regards to point #3 above – social persuasion. Keep positive with encouragement.
  4. Recognize when your child is experiencing stressful situations (say the first few weeks of school or before a dance recital) and talk about it. Let them know that it’s okay to feel butterflies. It’s normal and natural.

Last thing I want to mention in relation to this video is that the subject of creative confidence reaffirms my blog title “Keeping Creativity Alive”. For a while now I’ve been contemplating changing the name.. to something more positive, more unique and more, well.. creative. But this video reminds me of my ultimate mission and passion: to help parents help kids grow creatively with confidence and has me thinking that my name might be appropriate after all… for now anyway. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Creating Innovators

Creating Innovators. The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World addresses these questions through in-depth profiles of young innovators and the adults who have made a difference in their lives, as well as vivid descriptions of innovation-driven classrooms and places of work.

YES! This is what my intention for this blog is all about. Looking at what we can do as parents and caregivers and teachers to foster creative minds that will innovate and make positive changes in the world!

Some quotes from the video that resonate with me:

“Raising someone with an intention that they’ll be an innovator is actually different than raising a child that you want to behave all the time and be quite compliant.” – Annemarie Neal, Cisco Vice President

“Let them fail because they are going to learn more from that than we can ever teach them directly.”

“Our success is measured by the rate of innovation.”

This leaves me pondering: what more can I do to encourage my children to be innovators?

Here are some answers to my own question; some of which I’ve instinctively been practicing. It’s a work in progress and there’s certainly always a lot of room for pushing and challenging myself to inspire and create learning opportunities for my kids at home. In any case, this is where I’m at in the process:

  • Provide opportunities to practice decision making.
  • Support the decision made.
  • As per supporting and encouraging independent thinking via decision making (as an example), build confidence. One example is standing behind decisions that are made. Providing positive feedback and praise when appropriate and relevant. Or acknowledging good thinking and new ideas: “that’s a great idea!”
  • Provide problem solving activities regularly.  A lot of times children will come up with their own challenges to solve. Ha! Like the time V wanted to get through the fence to visit the neighbourhood girls. She decided she’d use scissors to cut a hole in the wood to crawl through. When that didn’t work she ran inside to get a pencil to draw a door that she could open. This went on for a while! I can’t actually remember how she resolved her challenge.
  • Dedicate time each day where children can follow their own interests and curiosities, daydream or pursuit a project/game/activity idea.

What are ways that you foster innovation with your kids?

Hallowe’en Jack-o’-lantern Inspiration!

Hallowe’en was a blast! I want to share a bit of inspiration that came over me yesterday as we were carving and decorating our pumpkin at the eleventh hour!

While Violet was at school yesterday afternoon I went out and picked up a pumpkin. (Note to self: next year get a pumpkin early so that you don’t pay a premium at the local overpriced fruit market to get one of the last pumpkins in town.) Before I picked her up from school I did a quick search on Pinterest for Jack-o’-lantern carving ideas. (I’m completely addicted to Pinterest!) Then I came up with an idea that was inspired by a brilliant creative idea from Child’s Own Studio that I heard about last year but saw again here a few days ago: stuffed toys made based on kid’s drawings.

I particularly like what creator, Wendy Tsao, of Child’s Own Studio says about her main inspiration:

…children draw to please themselves. They don’t care if the arms are too long or the legs are too skinny or if the eyes are mismatched. They’re more interested in the message of the drawing. These drawings are often very original. As adults, we can’t draw like children anymore.

Getting back to our pumpkin.. With the idea of letting my child design our Jack-o’-lantern, we pulled out her sketchbook.

She chose the design.  She’s really into drawing V’s and zig zags these days.

We scooped the inside saving the seeds.

Lastly, Violet went to town painting it.

Watching her concentrate on painting the entire pumpkin was amazing. She carefully chose her colours and covered the entire thing.

The final masterpiece! Ta – Da!

We’ll definitely do this again next year. Will be fun to see what she comes up with next!

Mila’s Daydreams

This is one of those “I wish I had thought of that!” creative ideas. A mother in Finland, a copywriter and concept designer in advertising currently on maternity leave, keeps her creativity alive every day by creating mini vignettes where she dresses and places her sleeping baby within these really fun and whimsical themed scenes.  The scenes all deriving from what mom imagines baby might be dreaming about. The blog is called Mila’s Daydreams and is definitely worth checking out.

First thought of most mother’s viewing this site: “Wow, she has a good napper on her hands!” Second thought: “Must be nice to have all this free time to set up the scene!”

But seriously, this goes to show that a good idea with a lot of legs becomes really easy to execute. Really, the possibilities are endless. So clever! I especially love how the titles enhance the visual… like this one…

“Attack of the 50 foot woman’s baby!”

or “The Paperdoll”

Mila is just so precious! And what a wonderful keepsake for both mother and child!