7 4 grade ups learn to think creatively at home : Some experiences

Dr. Vanita Patwardhan & Mrs. Shirin Kulkarni

Torrance coined the term “4th ­grades lump.” This is the age that children begin to lose their spontaneity. Since this age researchers see a huge drop in creativity. There is an affirmative answer to the question – can caregivers at home groom creative thinking of 4 10 to 14 years old, which is well beyond art, craft, games, dance and music. Home is the great support to schools in enhancing their creative thinking. At home, individual space, less formal and intermediately structured atmosphere, playful mood, close emotional bonds and enjoying each other’s’ intellectual pursuits is possible. Here are experiences of the creative parents who reserved time for children, encouraged doing routine activities in different ways, put forth moderately challenging activities, lessened extrinsic awards substituting with intrinsic satisfaction by overcoming age gap. The games and opportunities given at home to stimulate creative thinking for teenagers aim to enhance sensitivity, observation and questioning skills, idealization and originality in language, numbers, objects, events and also in emotions. Some examples of experiences, which range from period of 35 to 3 years are ­ observing, sensing and noting changes in others’ emotions, in growing pets and trees; question storming wildly; classifying in varied ways kitchen utensils,food, words, numbers; producing ideas about words, numbers, figures, emotions; coining rhymes; exchanging roles, dresses, names; changing hand preference; making projects for videos, music compositions, novel celebrations; solving simple day to day problems with unusual tricks; etc. We see those children now grown up having hardly any behavioral problems as scientists, entrepreneurs and project leaders; launching own centres and academies; writing books and poetry; rearing creative children; etc. Our experiences are the footsteps for others to follow to bring out ‘little or mini­c creativity’ and ‘big ­C creativity’ in 4th grade ups children.

The efforts to enhance creativity are truncated along age. The practitioners, researchers and parents focus on young children of nursery and primary schools. The efforts become less and less as the age grows.

Torrance (1967) coined the term the ‘4th-grade-slump’ or ‘creativity slump’. He discovered that after preschool years and particularly when the children reach fourth grade, their creative expression tends to decrease dramatically. They begin to lose their spontaneity, take fewer risks and are less playful than when younger. There are many hypotheses formulated regarding this apparent decline. Many relate it to general cognitive development and the emergence of formal logic that constrains imagination. Most often the reason is pointed to the educational system and its push towards conformity. Glăveanu (2014) proposes that to advance the idea of a ‘creativity slump’ with the means of divergent thinking testing means to ignore the fact that creativity is grounded in the symbolic use of cultural means as children participate in various communities, including their schools. And home is the social unit where children grow. If their creativity is nurtured at home, it may be one of the solutions to so called slump or going beyond divergent thinking tests.

Children start learning even before they are born. It is providing cognitive apprenticeship by parents. There is an increasing awareness of the importance of home learning environment in providing activities to encourage children’s thinking. Surprisingly, Fumoto, et al (2012) note that parents’ understanding of children’s creative thinking and how it may be fostered at home, has seldom been addressed by researchers.

On the backdrop of the tremendous work in and in enhancing creative thinking, we refrain to discuss definitions of creative thinking and ample techniques to enhance it.

Parents’ participation in grooming creative thinking of children is focused by some experts. Fumoto, et al (2012) developed ‘Analysis of Children’s Creative Thinking’ (ACCT) Framework and applied it for young children. They analyzed parents’ participation in children’s’ creative thinking and put forth the need for encouragement and support for parents to help gain confidence in promoting their children’s creative thinking at home. Piirto, J. (2000) presents in-depth ways for parents to inculcate creative thinking in children with a strong foundation. A number of practical guides full of ready-to use activities and worksheets to switch on the ideas of school students are available, for example, Edwards (2005) supplied thinking skills techniques, which are useful to parents as well. Research about creative thinking in India is undertaken by psychologists and educationists. Demographic and personality correlates of creativity, characteristics of creative people, and effects of interventions for enhancing creativity are explored. Misra (2007) reviewed the research about creative thinking in India and marked the need to uncover diversity in creative manifestations as well as the processes necessary in nurturing creativity. There is absence of research in India about facilitation in creative thinking for 10 – 14 year old at home.

Some parents have a hard time encouraging creative expression, even though they understand and appreciate its benefits. May be they don’t feel creative themselves or are uncomfortable with the mess and materials.  In such cases, a little assistance and direction can be helpful without any comparison, evaluation or interference about children’s’ creative expressions. This study may encourage them.

We have focused on curiosity, fluency and originality of ideas as well as problem solving. The 4th grade ups children are the children who are 10 to 14 years old students. By parents, we mean the caregivers – mother, father, grandparent; who get opportunities for close and long term interactions with children. At home means in home environment and does not necessarily in the walls of home. Objective of the study is to report the experiences of parents about 4th grade up children learning to think creatively at home.

Parents

Here are anecdotes based on 15 parents’ experiences in Pune, Maharashtra, India; who tried to nurture some aspects of creative thinking at home. They themselves underwent facilitation in creative thinking in formal or informal settings. A few of them were facilitators to enhance creativity. The researcher asked the parents – ‘What activities did you introduce at home to initiate your child’s curiosity, imagination and problem solving? What were the outcomes?’- to collect the data.

Twelve of them reported through emails in written form and we could transcribe three more.  We scrutinized the reports along the criteria – age group 10-14 years, related to creative thinking and executed in home environment to suit the data for present study. We edited the same to maintain anonymity and align with the purpose of the study. There may be more than one anecdote by one parent. In all, five brief cases and 14 anecdotes are reported here.

Features of the Anecdotes

Some features of the anecdotes are :-

  • The anecdotes are shared by the parents – mothers or grandmothers.
  • One parent reported more than one experiences. So one parent’s anecdotes may be more than one.
  • The experiences are brief descriptions with a few details, such as, manipulated names, age, relation with the child, etc.
  • Anecdotes calling only for verbal expressions are included in this study.
  • A few experiences are of the visitors to other countries.
  • Some anecdotes have tinge of Indian culture.
  • The responses were in Marathi – regional language of Maharashtra and are translated in English.
  • The parents did not directly aim at fostering creative thinking and evaluate the difference. It was playing, enjoying, spending time to avoid monotony, relaxing by giving up memory stress, etc.
  • No fixed schedule, frame or structure was observed at home.
  • In most cases minimum two children were present at a time.
  • Though the experiences are about both – girls and boys – as children, gender reference may be missing, since creative thinking does not have gender bias. However, some names denote gender.
  • The time for the creative thinking activities was free time before, during, after meals; while commuting to school and travelling to other places; during gate together with children’s’ other friends (birthday parties, sleep overs, celebrations, etc.) or when doing any household monotonous job (cooking, dressing, gardening, painting walls, etc.).
  • The period of the experiences is 35 years to present time. So some children described here are now about 45 years old and are parents themselves!

Now we will present the experiences in two ways –Brief Cases narrating activities undertaken throughout childhood and Specific Anecdotes. The anecdotes are classified along – curiosity, fluency and originality of ideas as well as problem solving. So these are the activities to sparkle creative thinking imparted by the parents at home for 4th grade ups. We will not elaborate the techniques, which is beyond the topic in hand. We will assume that the reader is conversant about the same.

Experiences of Children Think Creatively at Home

CASES IN BRIEF

Case One

My husband had gifted my daughter Neetee, 10 year old, a Chinese puzzle, which was a set of seven magnetic pieces. We stuck the pieces to our wardrobe and the game was to rearrange the pieces to make a different figure when no one else was looking and the other two had to guess the figure. We realized that our perceptions differ and sharing of perspectives was facilitated through this game. Questions came up if my daughter’s perceptions got a challenged.

Our neighbor used to run a crèche and my neighbor used to ask Neetee to look after the kids for a while, while she ran down the staircase for some errand. My daughter was extremely sensitive to the situation of those children in the crèche and almost felt equally responsible for their wellbeing as the crèche owner. The kids developed a close emotional bond with her.

Once she drew an image on a sheet of writing paper that had checkered background depicting a staircase and a smiling round face and had told us that this is me and I have to climb this staircase in my life.

Case Two

I feel that while watching movies, TV shows, ads or while going out to museums, zoos, market places, etc. Raya’s curiosity increased. We used to discuss, raise questions and share views.  Involving him in cooking, cleaning, decorating the house, hosting parties, packing gifts, making travel plan etc. led him to be inquisitive and confident.

We gave an opportunity to him to interact with blind students and see how they can write in Braille and understand how they manage things independently. He was also involved in Rotary activities like Polio immunization, etc. which made him sensitive to challenged ones.

We encouraged him to design her own games, with the rules and outcomes, to plan the party with theme, menu and gifts, etc. within a budget. We discuss a lot of new ideas between us and I do not belittle her for any unconventional ideas. The result is that we have highly creative child, who has also developed skills in different activities.

Case Three

Finding rhyming words and making poems out of it, climbing a tree in the garden and seeing how things look from different heights, painting the pots for plants and other handicrafts were usual activities of my children – Hemanta and Shina. Making different sounds by mouth to copy variety of sounds – bird songs, the sound of movement of a cloth, water flowing, friction between two different things, etc. They enjoyed talking to animals and plants and sometimes to inanimate objects etc. Through such a variety of activities they became observant, curious, sensitive, imaginative and bold. They loved creating either poems, crafts, sounds or so. We have had cats and a dog at home, which made children sensitive to animals.

My daughter in those days was much concerned of horses and sad to know that they are killed sometimes; she wanted to be a vet then. Now, she is in mass communication.

Most importantly I gave them free time, ample of it. No tuition classes, we introduced them to sports and reading and then they selected what they liked. Also my daughter says that I always encouraged different and new things, things away from routine or ordinary, so it must have been so. We used to talk with interest about out of the way things people did. ‘Ideas’ were quite important for me- and automatically that came in front. Asking the children the kind of designs and colors for rangoli, shapes and color combinations for decoration when cake was baked, interpreting the different shapes that emerged when we start looking at a wall peeling or wet wall, the details of home when we have our own home, after beginning a story- the children would take it further as they wanted, dancing to tunes, saying the same tune in different rhythms etc.

On the whole I think some of these are done intentionally (reading, sports, playing classical and variety of music) to sensitize children, but mostly parents- at least we – did many things because we ourselves enjoyed those, we were simply like that. Sometimes when children did not like a particular thing, we/he/she dropped it. For example my son did not continue horse riding, daughter did; son played tennis, daughter did not.

I am happy with some outcomes and feel that I could have done some other things intentionally. The outcomes are- the children are creative in their field of academics and follow some creative interests. More importantly they understand the relation between creativity, honesty and happiness; they value it and encourage it in their surroundings.

Case Four

I am trying to recall my experiences with my two sons – Raajaa and Raanaa – about 30 years back! Punning on words, joking, teasing, etc. was our usual way of communication! Many times we looked at each other, raised eyebrows or made some hand/finger movement, nodded head and messages were communicated. I had a habit of signing songs based on the words heard recently. So whenever ‘song stimulating’ words, such as, getting up, going to bed, night, sun, vegetables, water, school, getting late, etc. used to occur in conversation, Raanaa will just look at me from the eye corner, expecting a song. When I used to start singing two-three songs related to same word, he again look at me suggesting, “Will you please keep quiet now?” and my flow of ideas and of singing used to be caught up! The toys for my children always were empty covering boxes, wrappers, used colorful sheets, ruined food grains, match boxes, used match sticks (for many well known problems), pebbles, colorful cloth pieces, ball-pen refills, old tires,  etc. Not the play material but the unique and new game mattered.

Classifying the 6-8 objects around in free time in many varied ways called for noting attributes and for divergent visual production.

Doing daily work in different ways was the challenges which we set for us. For example, bedtime brushing the teeth was a tiresome job for all of us. So sharing ‘the different way I am brushing my teeth’ was a point to deal with the problem of the tiresome job. It worked for some time.

One incidence is quite notable. One day, I asked my two sons and their neighboring friend, Kant, who was a school dropout, but recited number tables up to 30 by heart; to enlist as many equations as possible with ‘0’ (zero) as the answer. For example, 2-2 = 0, 5+2-7 =0, etc. Triggered with this activity, Kant produced double equations in about 10 minutes as compared with my two school going children! He used parentheses, multiplications, subtractions, fractions; which hardly my children applied; and next day supplied additional list using squares. Some examples may be manipulated as – (7+3) x (6+4) – 100 = 0, (5.9 ÷ 5.9) -1 = 0 and so forth. My sons are trying to establish creative atmosphere at home for their kids and Kant is well settled with a warm home.

Case Five

I – Deepak, 35 years old – do remember some of the things that my Grandfather did in my childhood in around 1990, which I think formed basis of my curiosity and inclination towards creative thinking. I am listing those activities I still remember.

He used to tell us self-created stories. Those stories were a fascinating, mixture of various cultures, reality based and different than fairy tales. For example, main character used to be Indian, supporting characters were from England and from Africa. He had the knack of transforming the storyline as per our mood. Sometimes, characters of scientists used to enter those stories to solve problems. Newton can enter to solve gravity problem on moon etc. We understood a lot about different cultures and about creative problem solving through those stories.

He acquainted me with famous detective of Sherlock Holmes in my early school days. I used to read translated stories of Sherlock Holmes when I was in 5th grade. Now, I think the deductive observational approach of Sherlock Holmes to solve various cases while guiding and counseling, became basis of my interest in creative problem solving.

His taste of various books, cinema and TV serials made a huge impact on me. One of which I still remember and enjoy is – ‘Yes, Minister’ on BBC, a political satire. The linguistic creativity and typical British humoring this serial I really adore.

These are some things I still remember about my childhood experiences about exposures to creativity domain.

SPECIFIC ANECDOTES

Here are specific anecdotes along the aspects of creative thinking with some examples of notable responses. The aspects are: curiosity, flow of ideas inviting originality and novelty through transformation and in problem solving.

Curiosity
Questioning is the way to nurture curiosity. The ‘Game of 20 Questions’ was played at home as and when a little free time was available. The difficulty level was increased – concrete things, parts of an object, abstract concepts, partially alive objects, collective nouns, etc. – with more facilitation in categorizing and funneling the search of the thing to be guessed in other’s mind.

Question storming was also practiced on the lines of brainstorming, aiming at firing questions initially about objects and later about concepts. When supported to ask questions, many novel questions are asked by children.

Driving in Glasgow, Shreepaad (10 years) got rare opportunity to clearly watch an airplane for a long time in otherwise cloudy sky; asked ‘does the smoke coming out of the cloud later forms clouds?’ Appreciating his imagination with a smile, the father grabbed opportunity to explain ‘water cycle’!

Anecdote One

Once 12 year old Mihir was nagging for a new story and the mother wished to avoid it. She then asked him to note down – What questions can you ask about the story of Cinderella? He came up with these ones in about 10 minutes showing his inquisitiveness and flow of thinking:

  • Why did the sisters dislike Cinderella?
  • Why were they jealous?
  • What did they think?
  • How did Cinderella feel?
  • Why does the king want the prince to marry?
  • Was it a good idea to have a ball dance? Why?
  • What is fairy godmother?
  • Why did she want to help Cinderella?
  • How did she do her magic?
  • Are the godmother & her magic real?
  • What will you do if you are Cinderella?
  • What would you wish if you meet a fairy godmother?
  • Why did the sister pretend that the shoe fit to them?
  • Did the prince & Cinderella live happily ever after?
  • Can you suggest different titles to this story?
  • Can you end the story in many different ways? (Semantic production)

The questions covered varied aspects of the story. The last two questions were actually asked in school by the teacher some time back.

Anecdote Two

Here is an anecdote of a joint effect of ‘Game of 20 Questions’ and ‘question storming’ resulting in philosophic inquiry (Fisher, 2008). These are four children of 12-14 years of age gathered for sleep over on a holiday. The initial answer to ‘whether the object in mind is living or nonliving’ mislead, confusion increased and it was to congratulate them that instead of fighting they were engaged in discussion as follows:

Is an apple in the kitchen dead or alive?

R: It’s dead.

F: Why do you think it’s dead?

R: Now, it is plucked from the tree & not part of the tree. The tree is alive, not it’s part which is cut off.

L: I think it’s not dead, but still alive.

R: Why so?

L: Look! If we plant the seeds in that apple, they will grow. Those tress will of course be alive.

F: The seeds in the dead apple will not grow in a tree, L.

L: May be seeds from some apples at least will grow & those apples are alive.

M: So some kitchen apples may be alive and some may be dead.

R: So what if the seeds grow. The seeds inside may be alive, not the apple itself.

F:Can we say that the apple is partly dead and partly alive?

M: Why alive and why dead?

R: Dead because it is withering slowly and will perish soon, and alive because its seeds can grow into a live tree.

L: If we eat it and don’t let it wither?

M: Then it will live. It will be part of us.

F: Oh, yes. To be a part of something alive means being alive!

R: Sure. That’s why we think that an apple on a tree is alive, though withering.

Anecdote Three

My two children, Arin and Aarya 11 and 14 years old, learn to sing formally. They were supposed to attend a concert and listen. I tried to help them for musical analysis and asked to list out questions about a piece of music. They came up with these questions and later tried to answer the same. The list shows ideation along many angles of a concert.

  • Who are the artists in the concert? How many performers? Who are they?
  • What they wish to present & why?
  • What will we hear which is making the music? Instruments, voices…
  • How do you recognize the instruments without viewing them?
  • What is the feeling, mood does the music communicate?
  • Does it have – pitch/ melody/ rhythm/ harmony/ tempo/ timbre/ texture/ structure…?
  • Are there any patterns of sounds? What are they?
  • Compare this piece that with other.
  • Does it remind of some other music?
  • Can we suggest titles to this music? What?

Fluency of Ideas

The ideas in these anecdotes invited originality in varied ways.

Anecdote Four

This is way back in 1985 -87, some 35 years back. I have two sons, who were about 10 and 13 at that time. I used to be conscious about sibling rivalry, which I could deal with successfully with them earlier. So while cuddling them, I used to name them in pairs. The pairing used to be on varied principles. Initial pairs used to be with valuable things and later diluted with wild attributes, which were hardly suitable to human beings! I refrained from comparison along superior and inferior. Examples are – ‘You are my – gold and silver, …..apples and mango,… dhavalyaa and pavalyaa (popular names of bullocks)…..table and chair…etc.’ and this used to continue till time permitted. Now, my son with two daughters of 7 and 10 years old practices this fun with still wild pairing principles and I can see their faces curious and full of happiness. Recent examples are – petrol and diesel, knife and fork, water and vapor, angel and fairy, scolding and slapping, diwali and Christmas….introducing many categories and attributes of things.

Anecdote Five

Sitting on the dining table and waiting for food to serve, Simran (11 year old) started viewing the serving stainless steel spoon held upright on the table in many different ways which called for visual imagery and flow of original ideas. She called her elder brother and said, “Look, this is my hand and not the spoon; it is a pen to write, an electric pole in the street, a mirror to see that lighted bulb, wiper on car glass (making its wiping movement), stick for a dwarf, it is to make annoying sound for mother, to lick it….” Thus, the hungry stomach made Simran to shift to ‘unusual uses’ of the spoon. The brother remained smiling with amusement.

Anecdote Six

Creative activity may include discussing and extending thinking around a central topic or a problem. It may provide opportunities for exploring certain ideas, making judgments and investigating relationships in concepts. Three friends listed following descriptions when asked to answer – What is a friend?

  • A friend is someone you know.
  • A friend is someone you like very much.
  • A friend is someone you don’t quarrel with.
  • A friend is someone who is your neighbor.
  • A friend is someone with whom you play a lot.
  • A friend is someone of your age/gender/school grade.
  • A friend is someone who does what you say.
  • A friend is someone who is always on your side.
  • A friend is someone forgives you.
  • A friend is someone who always agrees with you.
  • A friend is someone you can share all your secrets.
  • A friend is someone helps you when things go wrong.
  • A friend is someone meets every day.
  • A friend is someone of the same country/race/religion/economic condition.

Later, they tried to compile these descriptions, wherein they further conceptualized their ideas.

Anecdote Seven

Some discussions can lead to reflective explorations. Anaya, age 13 wrote following lines to the thought provoking question – why none is perfect in all respects? It is an example of producing semantic system in terms of Guilford (1977).

I know why it is so. Then there would simply be saints, angels and fairies; no humans like us. It is our test to be perfect. We go on trying. We may be successful or not. Sometimes it happens this way.  And we learn. Life is so wide and many things happen, so no one can be perfect all the time everywhere. And some may think differently, what is perfect and what is not. So may be some are perfect, but they may not look like. Why should be perfect in all respects at all? We may not be.

Originality of ideas through Transformation and in Problem Solving

Anecdote eight

These are the efforts to deal with the problem of communicating secretly – code languages. Simple secret message can be converted in such a way that one who knows the key can understand it.

Two brothers, Sohel and Shonil (12 and 14 and half years) while listening to a bedtime story (yes, till this age they demanded one!) were amused to know the method of messaging secretly which was used during Raja Shivaji’s (an eminent king) reign in 17th century in Maharashtra. The first letter or word of each line of a verse constitutes a message and the verse carries some meaning which is totally unrelated to the intended one. After trying some examples they applied this technique for secret communication in them! Here is an example of a sentence which Sohel shouted at Shonil with specific rhythm and breaks to say, “We will go for swimming now.”

Sweets to eat

Water to drink

Ice cream to enjoy is our

Meal today!

Shonil replied with appreciation and wit :-

Oh! Then what about –

Sweeping the garden

Watering the plants

Ironing the clothes, which Mom told?

Needless to state that both moved for swimming!

Anecdote Nine

I used to use code language of ‘cha’ – ‘Monika come here.’ will be ‘chanikamo chamaka chayarhi’ or so as per replacing the first pronounced letter (mo) by ‘cha’ and moving that replaced letter in the end.

My 13 year old Datta absorbed this code language principle and later developed own codes. He inserted ‘pma’ after each of the first letter. So the above sentence now will be – mopmanika kapmam hipmayar’ or so.

Anecdote Ten

Role reversal was practiced at Geeta’s (11 years old) school with due preparation and some students enjoyed being teachers, office staff, library assistants, laboratory attendants, helpers, etc. on one specific day –students’ Day. Looking at her overwhelmed enjoyment, I as a stressed out mother with a sick member to look after at home, asked her, “Would you like to be a mother & I will be your daughter?”  She was thrilled with this idea and she cooked food on that weekend, served it, cleaned the kitchen, etc. and I rested a while.

Geeta being a teacher, a doctor or a driver in make beliefs was quite common for us in her early age; but now it was enacted very fruitfully.

Anecdote Eleven

When the grandmother encouraged Siddharth and Ari, about 13 years old, to construct rhyming sentences and verses and later cited examples of coining own names in meaningful verses; they came up with following verses:

Hello, Siddharth!

Sleeping on berth?

Have railway ticket?

Otherwise your wicket!

Ari, Ari!

Don’t hurry, don’t worry.

Here is your beloved curry.

Both of them loved to read story books and proficient in language. They used to change end part of a story and laughter used to burst out!

Anecdote Twelve

Fade up with usual birthday celebrations, Harprit wanted something new every year. So in following years, she offered own hand-made origami articles to all the classmates, wrote letters of appreciation to the beloved ones, enjoyed trekking with a group of economically disadvantaged children, cleaned the garden, etc.

Anecdote Thirteen

Young brother Ranjit used to trouble Rohini (12 year old) a lot. Frequent shouting, crying and fighting of these siblings bothered others. Putting books, notebooks, writing material, dresses, etc. away from Ranjit didn’t help. Dealing with him was one part. As the other part, I suggested Rohini to enlist ways how to lessen his troublesome acts. Here is her list:

  • Every time give bribe to him to keep away – sweets, coloring sheets
  • Hit him
  • Scold him in top voice
  • Spoil his books and toys
  • Tell his school teachers
  • Make him tired so much that he will be unable to move around
  • Plan a tuition by me for him in math/ swimming/chess
  • Plan a tuition by him for me in football game/ playing harmonium/washing dishes
  • Banning communication with each other for particular period
  • Give him lots of sweets to eat immediately after he bothered me

Rohini was amused to think on such wild lines and her anger was lessened in due course.

Anecdote Fourteen

When a well-known Sanskrit ‘Prahelika’ –Sanskrit verse puzzles (Vinze, 1964); wherein perplexing conclusion is arrived at in questioning-answering, like below, was shared with two granddaughters – Meera and Dheera, 10 & 13 years, at Huston,U. S. A., they were thrilled:

भोजनांतेSपि किं पेयं? जयन्तः कस्य वै सुतः?

कथं विष्णुपदं प्रोक्तं? तक्रं शक्रस्य दुर्लभं ll

The three questions are – what to drink after meal, who is the father of Jayant, how is getting to heaven. The respective answers are – butter milk, Indra, difficult – meaning ‘it is hard to get butter milk to Indra (God of the Gods in Hindu religion)’! We common people can avail butter milk, but the God of the Gods cannot!

Then the following ‘Prahelika’ was to solve:

वृक्षाग्रवासी न च पक्षिराज स्त्रिनेत्रधारी न च शंकरोयम् l

त्वग्वस्त्रधारी  न च सिद्धयोगी जलं च बिभ्रन्न घटो न मेघः ll

What is the object which – lives on top of a tree, but isn’t a bird; has three eyes, but isn’t God Shankar; wears clothes made up from tree parts, but isn’t a sage in forest; has water in stomach, but isn’t a pot or cloud? (Coconut)

The beauty occurred later, when the granny started coining ‘Prahelika’ in simple Marathi (regional) language focusing on the objects around. The whole family participated. It ended with many ‘Prahelika’ created by the elder child herself! Here are some examples:

What is the object which – is finger-like, but isn’t a stick; is green, but not a leaf; comes up with words, but not a human? (Green pencil, which was lying nearby)

What is the object which – is round, but isn’t a ball; is shining, but isn’t the sun; makes sound, but not a musical instrument? (Stainless steel dining plate)

The younger one was annoyed after some time, as she couldn’t be with all this!

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUDING COMMENTS:

In this study endeavor has been made to collect instances of children learning to think creatively at home. It was the parents’ initiative, who realized importance of ‘out of box’ thinking. They purposefully established creative atmosphere at home. The researchers wished to advocate that insightful parents can do all this with hardly any additional efforts. Nothing is required in written form. Not even blank sheets, pencils, crayons, instruments, toys, etc. are required to learn to think creatively.

In this study any measure is neither applied to the amount of efforts of the parents nor for the children’s creative thinking levels. The spirit of the parents and the complementary responses of the children are to be appreciated.

In absence of direct feedback, it may be stated that the parents’ activities to stimulate creative thinking had impact on the four stakeholders – children, parents, their inter-personal relationship and the home atmosphere as a whole. Happy moods, positive approaches and attitude of acceptance in the homes were observed. The family members developed strong and lasting emotional bonding with each other.

Children started thinking that they are able, can do things, can create something special, take risks and as a result become more confident in continuing flow of ideas. They learned to enjoy, which helped them to be emotionally steady and hopeful.  They were ready to face puzzling situations, which apparently have no solutions. They developed openness and acceptance to divergence of people, customs, languages, views, opinions, priorities, ways of behavior, etc.; which were great lessons to live in this globalized world. Gifted children might have profited more with such thought provoking activities.

The parents used to be emotionally balanced while initiating and executing activities. Many times they got solutions to their children’s behavioral problems. Many ‘non-co-operations’ were turned into ‘whole hearten co-operations’ (night time brushing the teeth in many different ways). They had hold on their children which could be channelized for discipline.

The parents and children had many happy memories about each other, developed strong concern about each other and due respect about each other’s opposing views.

Happy moods, positive approaches and attitude of acceptance in the homes were observed. The family members developed strong and lasting emotional bonding with each other. Resilience in family problems was noticed in two cases.

These experiences are the footsteps for others to follow in inculcating ‘little or mini-c creativity’ and ‘big-C creativity’ in 4th grade up children at home.

Similar such well designed and structured studies in Indian scenario are essential. Workshop for parents and grandparents will direct the movement of making homes more and more creative.

The researchers propose 4 A’s to nurture creative thinking at home:

ADULTS or parents themselves need to be creative, to value creative thinking, to be aware about how it can be enhanced at home. They balance between feminine and masculine virtues. They refrain from any bias about their offspring. They should reserve time for children.

ADOLESCENTS have specific intellectual, emotional, social needs as per their developmental stage. Parents should be aware about the same and should try to cater to them. Parents should believe in children’s abilities and in the view that they will behave well and do their best.

ATMOSPHERE Parents should lessen extrinsic awards substituting with intrinsic satisfaction by overcoming age gap. They should continuously mention a note of enjoyment avoiding burnout, which may occur due to unrealistic expectations and blind ambitions. Parents should try to maintain openness to variety of experiences, independence and nonconformity. A balance between structure and freedom is to be sought.

ACTIVITIES Parents need to give broad way for generating many, different and wild ideas. Children can be encouraged doing routine activities in different ways. The activities put forth for the children should be moderately challenging calling for spontaneity, sensitivity. Opportunities to observe, question, appreciate, visualize, generate, transform should be planned and executed.

References

Edwards J. (2005). How to teach thinking skills. New Zealand: Thinkshop.

Fumoto, H.;  Robson, S; Greenfield, S; & Hargreaves, D. J. (2012). Young children’s creative thinking [internet resource]. Los Angeles, London: Sage.

Glăveanu, V. P. (2014).  Distributed creativity – Thinking outside the box of the creative individual. New York: Springer.

Misra, G. (2007). Psychological dimensions of educational research in India. Sixth Survey of Educational Research -1993-2000, Vol. II. New Delhi: NCERT, 314.

Piirto, J. (2000). How parents and teachers can enhance creativity in children. In M. D. Lyncy & C. R. Harris (Eds.), Fostering Creativity in Children, K-8: Theory and Practice (pp. 49-68). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Torrance, E. P. (1967). Understanding the fourth grade slump in creative thinking (Report No. BR-5-0508; CRP-994). Washington, DC: US Office of Education. In Glăveanu, V. P. (2014), Distributed creativity – Thinking outside the box of the creative individual. New York: Springer, 72.

Vinze, L. G. (1964). Sanskrit-Marathi subhashit kosh, (Ed.) Vol. I. Mumbai: Vinze.

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4 grade ups learn to think creatively at home : Some experiences Copyright © 2016 by Dr. Vanita Patwardhan & Mrs. Shirin Kulkarni. All Rights Reserved.

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