Creative minds need time to think. It is during “down time” that our brains can come up with novel ideas or search for answers to “what if….?” or “how can we solve….?” kinds of questions. If we fill our children’s lives with too much to do and allow them to fill the rest of it with electronics, their creativity and ability to come up with novel solutions to problems can suffer.
When I interview new students, one of the questions I ask them is, “If you had genuinely free time, what would you do with it?” Interestingly enough, I often have to explain what I mean by “genuinely free time.” They interpret a study hall, sports practice, or time outside of school as being free. In my opinion, the students who answer that they like to read are the ones who seem to do best in school. I also like to hear, “I go outside to ride my bike (play basketball, go running),” too, because these kids are getting the exercise they need to keep themselves healthy. The ones who say they like to play a lot of video games concern me a bit, because they might need help from me to succeed in school. Kids who spend a lot of time with their electronics might not have time for creativity because they are absorbed in something that takes up all their thinking time.
What can you do as a parent to ensure that your children have time for creative thinking?
- Talk to your children. Involve your child when you are trying to solve a problem, especially if it relates to him. For example, if he is creating a family problem by sleeping too late in the morning, sit down as a family to talk it over and to come up with a solution that works for everyone.
- Limit time spent with electronics. I am not advocating taking video games away from your child; just limit the amount of time he can play them the best you can.
- Allow your child to select one or two extracurricular activities at a time, rather than booking every minute of her spare time with things to do. If she has to go to sports practice every day after school and then work until midnight to get her homework done, there is little time left for creative thought.
The question to ask yourself as a parent is whether or not your children have down time every day. Do they have time to come up with ideas for what to do? If you fill up their time for them or allow them to get too absorbed in the digital world, they do not experience completely free, creative thoughts and games. Imagination is important in our children’s lives.