Being Creative Like a Six Year Old

Yesterday, I volunteered at my son’s elementary school. My husband and I both do this as much as we possibly can. It’s a wonderful way to get an up close view of what’s happening in Rex’s classroom, how he’s getting along with the other students and his teacher, and of course, it’s fun to spend time with all of the delightfully challenging and energetic 5 and 6 year olds. Mrs. Caton deserves a medal of recognition for her efforts with the class!

 Anyway, yesterday, I was “assigned” four boys for the reading workshop. We sat around a big round table with uncomfortably small chairs. The goal was to finish two worksheets, and then if there was any free time, we could choose a game to play.

 Well, my son and his classmates whipped through the page where they learned about words that start with ‘tr’. Lots of good boy words like train, truck, trouble, and track. Then, I presented the concept of compound words. What fun! Yes, you can stick words together to make new words! Football, hairbrush, and wheelchair. It is pretty exciting when you think about it.

 I glanced at the clock and realized we still had 20 minutes to fill before my time was up. They ran to the game shelf and began instantly grabbing boxes. One wanted Candy Land. Another wanted Bingo, and yet another one grabbed a box of flashcards. I could feel myself losing control of my audience.

 “Ok, ok,” I thought out loud. “We don’t have time to play every game. But, I have an idea for a fun game that I think you’ll like. It’s something that I loved when I was a kid.”

 “What is it?” they asked in unison.

 “We’re going to play scribble art.” I really didn’t have a name for the game, so I grabbed this one off the top of my head. “I’ll make a scribble on a sheet of paper, and hand it to you. You look at it and turn it into a picture of something.”

 The boys looked perplexed, but at least, they stopped fighting about the boxes of games. I gave each of them a scribble. Siddharth looked at his blob-like scribble and said in delight, “I know what it is. It’s a monster.” He proceeded to turn the blob into an intricate monster. Then, he wanted to know how to spell monster. He sounded it out, and titled his masterpiece. Success!

 Rex and the other two boys also worked on their scribbles with real enthusiasm and created fantastic drawings.  It was truly amazing to watch their incredible creativity. Soon, the time was up, and I said my goodbyes to the class.

 As I walked back to my car, I began thinking about creativity. It comes naturally to kindergartners, yet, we grownups are so reluctant to use our creative skills. Why is that?

 Have we all been discouraged by others, or is it more of a problem of self-doubt?

 As a writer, I have to be somewhat creative, but I always hold my breath a little when I hand work over to a client. Will they like it? Will they slash it up with edits? Unfortunately, I have a habit, as many writers do, of thinking that someone is critiquing me personally when they are critiquing my work. This isn’t good, and it’s my goal to overcome this self-defeating attitude. I know I write my best when I’m the least concerned about what others think. Creativity flows from a place where there is freedom and no inhibitions.

 My adventure into Rex’s class reminded me that being creativity is one of life’s greatest joys. It’s ok to write something less than perfect or to make a silly monster from a scribble. In fact, it’s better than ok. It’s fantastic!

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