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Teaching Strategies to Foster Creativity in Your Students

Janelle Cox

Some say creativity is inborn, while others say it is more of a talent and a skill that you must work on. In actuality, creativity is both. While you may be born with a creative talent, you must work on your skill in order to maintain it.

There is much more to being creative then just the arts. Being creative is about being innovate, being able to think outside of the box, and having the ability to solve problems. It is also an essential skill to have in science and math, as well as other subjects.

The past decade has been quite challenging for teachers, especially the past few years with the new learning standards that have been implemented. Many teachers feel that they have to teach to the test, which takes away from their students’ creativity. But, with STEM education being in the forefront, I am confident that creativity and innovation will be embraced and supported.

Research on student creativity has shown that creative students are better problem solvers, able to adapt to change better, and are more flexible. By enhancing student creativity you may be able to benefit students academically, socially and developmentally. Many researchers believe that the children of today lack creativity because of the digital world that we live in. Children no longer need to make believe that they are a princess wearing a tiara, because now there is costume that is designed specifically for children to role play that they are princess wearing a tiara. Inspiring more creativity and innovation in the 21st century classroom is important.  Here are some teaching strategies to help your students develop their creativity in your classroom.

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Teaching Strategies that Foster a Creative Atmosphere

The first step is to make your classroom a place where the students are free to be creative and innovative. You can designate a specific spot in your classroom where students are free to explore and be imaginative. This is a place in the classroom where students can paint, play, build, create, and make a mess. It is a place that is unstructured and child-centered and directed, and doesn’t have a lot of commercial themed play items. This space can have art supplies, instruments, building materials, and play clothes. It should be a space where students feel free to explore and use their imagination and creativity -- a place where they can go that is free from any judgment of others.

Teaching Strategies to Provide the Right Resources

Besides having the right creative atmosphere, you will need the right resources. While art supplies, building materials, and play clothes are a wonderful addition to your space, a thinking table, drama stage, and drawing table will make it that much better to help enhance your students’ creativity. Students need an array of resources for creative expression. Just make sure that you designate one specific area where students know that it’s OK to be creative. This area should be child-orientated with supplies that is easy to manage and clean up by themselves.

Allow Students Freedom to Be Creative

Creativity isn’t just having a designated space in your classroom, going to art or music class, or being able to solve a problem in an innovative way. While all of these are part of it, it is also about having the freedom to explore your own ideas. Think about coloring outside of the lines. When we were children we were always told to color inside of the lines. Being creative means to think for ourselves, and take a risk. It’s the ability to explore our own imagination and our thoughts, not somebody else’s. Allow your students the freedom to be creative in everything that they do. Encourage them to color outside of the lines so to speak.

By giving your students the resources, and the space to be creative, you are allowing your students to develop the mastery of creative activities that are motivated by them. This will not only help them in school, but also serve them well as adults.

How do you foster creativity in your students? Do you have any specific ways that think work for you? Please share your ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.