Whitney Ferre, author of 33 Things To Know About Raising Creative Kids, believes that creative thinking is the skill that will determine our grandchildren’s success in the twenty-first century. Whitney’s little 6″ x 6″ book starts with a checklist to help you assess your family’s level of “creative fitness.” Many of her suggestions are things we grandmas can offer our grandchildren, for example:
- Have art supplies readily accessible.
- Provide unstructured playtime.
- Limit time spent watching TV and playing video games.
- Display our grandchildren’s art.
- Spend time on our own hobbies and interests.
Her ideas are about making little changes that can result in big advantages. The fourth step in her 33-step plan is to know the developmental stages of creativity. Her advice validates what I wrote for the Art of Grandparenting—it’s important to know what is developmentally appropriate for your grandchild. That way you’ll know what to expect in behavior and how to engage in appropriate play.
At her Creative Fitness Center in Nashville, TN, parents often asked Whitney whether they should enroll their “really, really good” 6-year-old artist in a serious drawing class to encourage her artistic ability. Her answer is an emphatic “No!” At “serious” art classes, our young, enthusiastic artists can become discouraged and interpret the teacher’s suggestions as meaning that the way the child does it is wrong. That is a creativity developmental disaster!
When you’re aware of the timeline of your grandchild’s creative development, you’ll be able to supply him with what he needs to flourish and know when to supplement with outside resources. Whitney gives a guide for the different ages, the names of the stages, and the type of art you can expect. For a chart and graphics, check out this link.