The world is an enormous place, but it is only getting smaller. You can thank the Internet for that one. As parents, one of the greatest services we can afford our children is to foster the kind of creativity it takes to succeed in such an enormously small place.
Ironically, creativity is something that is increasingly lacking in our educational system, so it falls on parents to make sure children develop the kind of self-expression and creative problem- solving skills that the jobs of the future will demand.
So how do we do it?
There is no sure-fire way to make children express themselves. The best you can do is nurture curiosity and self-discovery. Allow your children to make whatever activity they are doing completely their own. For example, if you and your child are working with finger paints, let your little one go wild. Then give an appropriate amount of praise for whatever they have created. If you are reading a picture book with your child, ask your tot what he or she thinks might happen next — inferring is a skill your child is going to need throughout his or her life.
Most importantly, if you find that your kid is more interested in a particular subject — animals, numbers, the ocean — find ways for him or her to explore those interests semi-independently. Let them struggle through discovery, as it will only make the payoff that much more satisfying. Think about any skill you’ve taught yourself, and then think about the times you failed before you truly “got it.” There wasn’t any pressure aside from the pressure you put on yourself, so failure was nothing more than a minor setback.
Our school systems do enough when it comes to putting pressure on our kids with standardized testing and a thoroughly competitive atmosphere. It is up to us, the parents, to relieve the pressure of learning. Self-discovery from an early age teaches your child that failure is ok, that it is merely part of the journey to knowledge.
Let your child own his or her early education as best you can, and watch as he or she blossoms into a confident, successful young adult, ready to take on this enormously small world.