3 Teacher Tips for Using Creativity to Help Kids Learn

Fractions are more fun when you’re talking over actual slices of pizza. A child who loves video games may be interested in learning a basic coding program. It’s no surprise that kids are more easily engaged in learning when they’re having fun, and many teachers use this approach to build successful lesson plans for the classroom. Not only is this an indication of an awesome educator, it’s a tool that parents can use at home to further their child’s learning or manage academic challenges.

If you’re looking for ways to help your kids tackle a school project, improve in an area of learning or excel at their homework, consider giving creativity a try. Here are some great tips from elementary school teacher Laura W., an experienced educator in Burlington, Ontario.

Let your kids’ interests lead the way

When introducing a new skill or subject to children, consider using their current interests as a starting point. “If your child is really into dinosaurs or space, you can use that enthusiasm to help them investigate other topics,” Laura suggests. “Student-led learning makes students want to participate and helps them get excited.”

A kid who loves animals may be more motivated to pick up a book if it’s about tigers or sharks, and a child who loves superheroes may be more enthusiastic about writing if they’re detailing a super power they’d like to have in real life. If you can engage a sense of wonder and excitement, you’re on the right path.

Use your imagination (and have fun!)

“I’ve been doing around the world trips with my students,” Laura shares. “They get a ticket in their email and we pretend we’re going to a specific location. We dress for the weather, learn about the continent and then the specific country, and then talk about what animals live there. It makes students feel like we’ve traveled across the globe.” It’s great fun and these lessons are cross-curricular, integrating elements of social studies, science and other subjects. “Creativity allows you to be more flexible as a teacher, and as a parent,” says Laura, who applies the same approach at home with her own two children. For example, you can teach kids about science through baking or making slime, or use an allowance system to teach them about math and financial literacy.

Get hands on — and be flexible

Learning can happen anywhere and be demonstrated in countless ways, so it helps to lean into your child’s get excited about as well as their natural abilities. Being flexible is key, Laura says, and it often achieves better results. “Instead of doing exactly what I ask them to do, my students are encouraged to come up with their own ways of demonstrating what they’re learned.”

One example of this technique is giving an open-ended assignment where kids can use any combination of physical and digital materials to demonstrate their knowledge of a subject. Some kids may use visuals or text to explore ideas while others might be drawn to using physical materials to build a model. “It’s amazing what kids can come up with when you give them an opportunity to be creative,” Laura says. So for example, you might see one science project that’s based on written materials while another child plants a sunflower and makes observations. Both are valid learning styles, so lean into these activities at home.

Students are often excited to share open-ended assignments with their peers as they’ve prepared something that reflects their interests and strengths. “Kids need creative ways to demonstrate their learning because they all have different learning styles,” Laura says. “It’s good to give them choices.”

Research shows that creativity fosters mental growth in children by helping them develop new ways of thinking and encouraging problem-solving. It also helps kids express themselves while supporting a diverse learning environment. No matter what age your kids are, consider giving these creative learning ideas a try. You may be surprised how effective they are — and how much fun you’ll have.

By Staples Canada

June 14, 2021