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Encourage Creativity In Your Teen

One of the questions I always ask recruiters, CEOs and entrepreneurs is what trait do they most want to see in potential hires? 


Almost every time the respondent states that, beyond strong academics and analytical skills, the quality they seek out is creativity. In a world where technology is seeping into every facet of the workplace, organizations need employees that are able to interpret numbers differently, are able to think outside the box when looking for solutions, and able to come up with new ideas.


If you are the parent of a high school student, you may wonder how this applies to you. Remember that school is not about getting your teen to memorize a bunch of history facts or knowing how many degrees there are in a circle. Those are exercises are all intended to give your child the ability to think. And while students do develop expertise in a given field in college, we know that information becomes old in an instant, but creativity can last a lifetime.


So as a parent, work hard to nurture creativity in your children and teens now. Every day will present opportunities to do so, below are just a few examples to get you started:


1- When your teen is facing a problem at school, rather than giving them the solution, sit down with them and talk through different solutions.  Ask these questions: What can you do to solve the problem? If that does not work, what is your alternative? If you had to give someone advice about the same problem, what would you say?


2- If your child has to create a project for school, encourage them to come up with ideas and stretch the boundaries. Your child might fail, but there is learning to be gleaned from negative experiences. Be cautious of not jumping in to do the project for them, but rather let them bounce ideas off of you. Be honest in your feedback, but remember, your child’s creative juices take precedence over your past experiences.


3- Encourage storytelling in your home. I often ask teens to write stories using a list of specific vocabulary words. The stories don’t have to make sense, but they allow students to exercise their brains. If students are really stuck, I get them started with things like – tell me a story using your favorite character from a book, or create a story using your friends as the main characters. You, too, should jump in with your own tales.


4- Inspire creative writing at home. Some schools will include creative writing as part of their curriculums, while others stick to more traditional writing. At home, ask your teen to write stories using simple prompts. You might get some resistance at first, but then hopefully your teen will jump right in. Keep topics simple and let your child’s imagination take over. Here are a few to get you started: Facebook, School Bus, Cereal, Field Trip, and the Locket.


5- Encourage tinkering. Allowing your child to take apart the DVR and put it back together might not seem like the best idea. But let them. And let them run loose in the garage with the tools and some supervision. And crayons and markers are not just for toddlers. Too often kids are stationed in front of their computer screens. But close the screen and encourage your child to use their hands to create.


6- Just like companies encourage their employees to write down ideas on a white board, create a space where ideas can be shared safely. Whether that be a whiteboard, a piece of paper, or a text message, sharing ideas without judgment can be liberating.


It is so easy to get focused on the immediate need in front of us – homework, a project, or studying for a test. But step back and think about the long-term goal of education – to prepare your teen for their career and life. Encouraging creativity will give them the skills to be more successful in every facet of their life. 


All the best,

Purvi Mody and Team Insight 

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