How to let your child's creativity thrive

Tinybop Kids Creativity Chalkboard Drawings

This weekend the New York Times featured a brilliant op-ed, “How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off,” by Adam Grant. It highlighted several values we work toward at Tinybop.

Don’t give kids too many rules. Let them figure things out on their own.

Grant writes:

So what does it take to raise a creative child? One study compared the families of children who were rated among the most creative 5 percent in their school system with those who were not unusually creative. The parents of ordinary children had an average of six rules, like specific schedules for homework and bedtime. Parents of highly creative children had an average of fewer than one rule.
Creativity may be hard to nurture, but it’s easy to thwart. By limiting rules, parents encouraged their children to think for themselves. They tended to “place emphasis on moral values, rather than on specific rules,” the Harvard psychologist Teresa Amabile reports.

Tinybop apps have no rules. App play is guided by curiosity and exploration, not by points or wins. Our Digital Toys apps let kids create from their imaginations, not from a kit with a set of instructions. We know kids are smart and deserve products that treat them as such.

Help kids discover the joy in learning by letting them pursue their natural interests.

Grant writes:

Yes, parents encouraged their children to pursue excellence and success — but they also encouraged them to find “joy in work.” Their children had freedom to sort out their own values and discover their own interests. And that set them up to flourish as creative adults.

We’re developing apps that not only have educational outcomes but that we also hope instill a love of learning and inquiry. To us (and many children!) learning is fun. Learning should have laughter, wows, and "no ways!". These discoveries encourage kids to keep going.

As examples, in The Human Body, kids learn about how food turns into poop in the digestion system — they’re rewarded with bodily noises and the flush of a toilet. In Simple Machines, kids learn how to use a lever to topple a castle to reveal a sleeping dragon. We believe these moments create an “A-ha!” and memorable moments in a child’s mind.

Introduce kids to a variety of subjects and ideas.

Grant writes:

Evidence shows that creative contributions depend on the breadth, not just depth, of our knowledge and experience. In fashion, the most original collections come from directors who spend the most time working abroad. In science, winning a Nobel Prize is less about being a single-minded genius and more about being interested in many things.

Our Explorer’s Library apps cover a wide scope of topics for this reason. Kids can learn about volcanoes in The Earth, Mongolian gers in Homes, and mycelium in Plants (just to scratch the surface!). Also, learning about one system in the world can inspire an interest in another, or at minimum provide context for a future learning opportunity.

There are many more great thoughts in Grant's op-ed. Go read the whole thing.