How do you promote creative problem solving

Educational goal: promoting creativity

What creativity means

We define creativity as the ability to produce (also think) things that are new and that were previously unknown, at least for those who produced them. Creativity is something creative and automatic. Viewed consistently, the development of creativity requires a changed pedagogical approach. The creative child thinks independently and in new ways. It does not take over the thought patterns of adults and does not simply transfer their experiences and knowledge to their own life situation. It thinks for itself, it has its own experiences, it sometimes treads long and cumbersome paths and comes to independent results.

However, we live in a time in which it is becoming increasingly difficult to gain personal experience and to conquer creative freedom. Children play on prefabricated monotonous playgrounds with children of the same age. They live in small families, have only limited sibling experiences and are actually constantly under adult observation. Their world is so perfected that all they need to do is consume. They do not necessarily have a breeding ground for creativity. That is a shame, because creativity is one of the key qualifications of our future.

Creativity - a key qualification for the future

Creative people have it easier than others in many areas of life. They can adjust to new situations more quickly, look for and find solutions to their problems that deviate from the well-trodden path and master difficult situations by improvising and breaking away from classic thought patterns. Creative people have a special sensitivity in the area of ​​perception and problem solving and they often have good social behavior. They like to be open to new things, react to external impulses and show a remarkable willingness to be able to imagine things in a completely different way. What is also striking about creative people is their originality, their spontaneity and their courage to express themselves differently. Creative people are active people, so there is a great chance they have to develop continuously.

In the future, the development of creativity will play an increasingly important role, because in our problem-laden, fast-moving times, we need creative minds who view problems as challenges, develop a desire to work with new technologies, are willing to question the existing and in to break new ground in many areas of life. The more complicated and diverse our world becomes, the more we need people who deal with everyday problems with innovative ideas and original solutions. In many areas of work, preference is already given to hiring people who have a high level of creative potential compared to those who can come up with a high level of specialist knowledge.

The description of the creative person sounds a bit ideal and the way it is presented here, it certainly does not exist. Everyone is fundamentally different from others, and this is also the case with creative people. If you've watched your child closely, you will know that your child has a creative potential. And if you look at yourself and think you are not very creative, you should think twice: Have your creative abilities been promoted? Has creativity been seen as a positive trait in your family? Have you been commended for creative ideas?

Are Children Creative? How important was originality in your family? How were divergent ideas dealt with?

The creative child

Every child has creative potential from birth. You will have noticed long ago that your child is curious, loves every challenge and wants to discover the world, because it offers pure excitement. There are mysterious drawers that can be opened, blades of grass that can be plucked out, alarm clocks that can be taken apart and much more. Children want to know how the world works. They want to know “how the toilet door gets in the eye”. You want to try what the booger tastes like and find out whether you can “gel” your hair with Penaten cream. You ask your parents a hole in the stomach and if they stay patient and, instead of immediately parrying with answers, return the question or look for the solution together with your child, you contribute significantly to the positive development of your child's curiosity.

Children who do not sink into a toy park that barely allows for creative ideas can make play material from the most incredible things and spend hours cruising with an upturned table, inventing crazy language games or drawing pictures with the typewriter. Unfortunately, children are often thwarted in their urge to discover and research by adults who have long forgotten that without imagination and creativity we would still live today without lightbulbs, airplanes and other discoveries by creative spirits. In the plant, creativity is definitely present in every person. Sometimes, however, it lurks there like a hidden treasure that must first be found. This can be done through appropriate impulses, suggestions, materials and joint activities, confirmations and encouragement. In order to be able to develop their creativity, children need an appropriate framework and adults who support them.

The creative child is also a sensual child. It experiments with wire and feels that it scratches. They paint with paste colors and enjoy playing with the slippery material or have to overcome their disgust first. It builds a sand castle and lets the warm sand run through your fingers. In this way it opens up access to different materials and sharpens one's own feelings.

Children learn differently

Children mainly learn independently, i.e. by dealing with their real world. They learn actively and not primarily cognitively like adults. You have to touch things, take them apart and slowly get used to them. They want to find out how things work and prefer not to have anticipatory and controlling adults with them.

It is best for children to save practical learning experiences when they can be experienced with as many senses as possible. They want to hear, see, touch, taste, try out. If several sensory impressions come together, there is a good chance that what has been learned will also be saved. Nobody forgets a sensually staged experience so quickly, and neither does an experience that was associated with success.

Children want to play and have fun, but they can make an effort. But they do not want to be taught by adults, and certainly not if they cannot grasp the meaning of the teaching.

How you can encourage and support creativity

First of all, you should create a framework in which your child's creativity can unfold. Creativity also develops through stimulating rooms and materials that can be edited and repurposed over and over again. It starts with a children's room in which your child can rearrange and convert the furniture, in which there is space for movement and which is not blocked by a flood of toys. Your child needs pillows, blankets and pieces of fabric so that they can build caves and colors, pens, paper so that they can paint. When it comes to toys, “less is more” applies. The child, having to choose between 50 toys, is sometimes so desperate that they prefer to sit in front of the television. Game materials that can be repurposed and stimulate creative play are well suited. The material does not have to be “child-friendly” in the sense of “simple”, and to a certain extent. For example, give your child an old typewriter or allow your child to work with wood and a tool case. You will be amazed at the results your child will produce. As a rule, you do not need to worry about the perceived dangers. Your child can learn to be careful with tools and is able to use tools properly and pay attention to safety technology. When choosing the game material, think of the adage “Necessity makes inventive”.

Your child needs materials that stimulate research, that enable independent experimentation, reflection and trial and error. Children also get what they need to play. You are very inventive, work things around and learn to improvise. In addition, your child needs a place where they can not only leave and store their “work results”, but also “exhibit” them. A design result must be visually emphasized at least for a while and thus be appreciated.

Creativity can only develop if there is enough time for it. Creative people are persistent. They “work” on their goal until it is achieved and that can take time. There is not always a visible result, the action itself is important. If the child is disturbed in this process, they lose interest in the experiment. It takes time to try new ways, overcome difficulties, invent new techniques, take detours and gain experience. It doesn't want to be disturbed. If something is exciting, it doesn't tire either. Just think of the time when your child was still playing with building blocks: for hours they kept putting stone on stone, causing the tower to collapse and building the tower all over again. The goal was not the high tower, the activity itself was a pleasure.

What you can do to stimulate your child's creativity

First and foremost, the children always learn by doing themselves. To do this, they need freedom, time and encouragement. But you also need inspiring role models. Anyone who has parents who just sit in front of the television themselves, do not leave their cozy corner and are satisfied with pre-conceived and prefabricated things, cannot expect their own children to automatically develop creative potential. So look outside the box yourself and let your child infect you while researching and inventing. Try out together what happens if you put a piece of paper and watercolor in the salad spinner and then turn it. Get large-format paper and become an artist yourself. Experiment with colors and different papers, paint with your hands and feet and try out what happens when you have put colored chalk in the water for a few hours. There are no limits to your imagination and that of your children. With a lot of experiments one quickly comes to a satisfactory result. The experiment with colors and paper in particular provides a variety of new experiences. Paper can be torn, cut, crumpled, folded and glued. You can paint it and you can even use it to build a tower.

What else you should do:

  • Encourage your child to “think outside the box”.
  • Challenge originality and spontaneity.
  • Find words of appreciation for unusual solutions.
  • Encourage your child to get to the bottom of things.
  • Imagine things together differently from what they really are.
  • Encourage your child to keep trying new things.
  • Children like to use things differently than they are intended. That's a good thing, acknowledge this ability.
  • Children make up their own art forms, don't criticize that.
  • Do not laugh at your child, whoever has embarrassed himself no longer dares to make original ideas public.
  • Encourage your child to invent their own rules of the game and repurpose games.
  • Your child needs to feel accepted and appreciated.
  • Enjoy spontaneous reactions from your child and show your joy too.
  • Talk, read, play and experiment a lot with your child.
  • Go on a journey of discovery together.
  • Marvel together with your child about experiences, discoveries and experiences.
  • Praise instead of criticize.
  • You should appreciate your child's curiosity and need to communicate, even if it can be stressful at times.

Practical suggestions for developing creativity

Sometimes even small impulses are enough to set the children's imagination in motion.

  • Let your child invent a secret language.
  • Entertain yourself using only the fancy word “Gromulo”. Does the communication work?
  • Start telling a story that will be ended by your child.
  • Encourage your child to try out all the things that can be done with a newspaper (dressing up, tearing it up, folding a hat).
  • Ask your child if they can “paint” a typewriter picture.
  • Invent pictograms (signs).
  • Lie down on a meadow and look at cloud images with your child. Talk about your associations.
  • Find some beautiful stones and think about the stories the stones have to tell.
  • Allow your child to make a scrap sculpture.
  • Promote creative role and disguise games.
  • Stimulate creative paintings with shaving cream on black foil.
  • Play the What If Game: What If We Can All Fly? ... if there wasn't a TV? ... we could only go backwards? ... the children have to say? ... there were no laws?


  • Petra Stamer-Brandt (2004): Creativity Games. Christophorus: Freiburg.
  • Petra Stamer-Brandt (2012): Wilde Kerle Spiele. Herder, Freiburg
  • Monika Murphy-Witt / Petra Stamer-Brandt (2004): What children need for the future. Gräfe and Unzer: Munich.

Further contributions by the author can be found here in our family handbook


Petra Stamer-Brandt is the mother of four children, an educator and specialist journalist. She is a trained educational organizational consultant, coach (Advanced Studies University of Kiel) and has written numerous specialist books and parenting guides.

Created on December 13th, 2013, last changed on December 13th, 2013