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The CURIOOKids Malaysia Blog
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The CURIOOKids Malaysia Blog

Encouraging Creativity in 7 to 10 years olds.

By Paul Blackstone


A revolution is occurring in the world of work and over the next decade, almost every job will be affected. Some jobs will disappear entirely and new jobs, not even thought of today, will come into being. We can see this happening already, with fields such as retail, entertainment, health care, manufacturing and education being profoundly affected as technology advances. Some of the drivers fueling this revolution are automation, robotics, the internet of things, climate change, (de)globalization and an ageing and increasing population. A recent World Economic Forum report estimates that “five years from now, more than a third of skills considered important today will no longer be relevant but creativity and emotional intelligence will be among the top three needed”.


Creativity is a critically important skill for our children to develop as it encourages adaptability, idea generation, critical and logical thinking, and independence. It is well documented that children transition through certain periods of their lives where creativity is actively encouraged and periods where the opposite is true, one of these periods is the ages of 7 to 10.

Maintaining creativity in 7 to 10 year olds can be a challenge as at this age, children are becoming more self-conscious of how they are perceived by their peers and want to conform to the social behaviours of the people around them. Once children enter 3rd grade, their schooling and the parenting environment becomes generally much more structured and focused on the reality of life around them. They can start to lose their playfulness and sense of amazement. This is often reflected in their drawings, in how they play in their free time with the activities becoming less imaginative and more realistic, losing their playful or “fantastic” elements.


As they progress through this age bracket, they are often focused on doing the “right” things, so they are fitting in with their peers. Often, they will copy or replicate what their peers like, do and act. There is research that shows that over the primary school years, there is a 25% decline in what we would determine as creative attempts, often this decline is maintained throughout the school years and it never re-surfaces and for some students, this is ‘re-ignited’ and restored when they start university or college.


Often, this trend is extenuated by how most schools are structured, which is to teach and reward convergent thinking, where there is only one right or correct answer. This means for those parents that want to encourage creativity in their child are facing two significant forces, the societal and peer drive towards conformity and the educational drives towards creating a classroom of students who all have the same level of knowledge.


It is important we have a clear understanding of what creativity is and how best to encourage and nurture it in our children. Often creativity is associated with the arts such as music, dance, painting, drawing etc but the creative process can cover almost all subjects areas including mathematics, science, technology, writing (stories, poems, pictures) and manual/physical areas such as building and making.


We should define creativity as how we find new ways of solving problems and approaching situations.


The act of creativity involves applying brainstorming, brain-writing and other idea generation techniques. From these techniques, we can find multiple perspectives and to utilize flexible thought. The final process generally means creating something new and valuable to yourself or to others.


What Parents Can Do To Encourage Creativity

Many of the best and most attractive jobs our children will have in the near future do not exist today. Therefore, today’s children need the ability to adapt, create and invent, they need the tools creativity offers.


A relatively easy way for Parents to support creativity is to provide the conditions for your child to practice creative expression. Work with your child on their developmental drive for independence and provide creative materials/tools/space containing scrapbook paper, writing utensils, journals, recycling materials such as bottles, cardboard, paper, glitter, glues, paints, technology such as paint, scratch jr, multimedia. Think about your child’s talents and provide the tools they can use.


Be welcome to crazy “science” experiments even if they are messy or “construction”, “inventions”, “special clubs” and “teams” that may or may not work. Ask questions that allow your child to discover challenges and roadblocks to their plans on their own, without you telling them and limiting discovery. Independence and control are important parts to the creative process in children at this age, make sure your comments are about the process and not about success and failure of the end result of their play or experiments. Our responsibility is to assist our child to discover their creative confidence “on their own”.


Developing creative thinking as much as creative expression can also be supported by Parents. Children at this age can fall into the trap of relying on ways of thinking that are routine, common or popular without challenging themselves to think more broadly and critically. Our objective is encourage our children to learn confident self-expression, resourcefulness and imagination in order to think creatively and work towards solving complex problems. 

One way to increase the diversity of ideas and the overall creative process is to support divergent thinking – the ability to see various answers to a question or problem, often leading to the generation of unique solutions. An excellent way to do this is through “What if” or open-ended questions. Take advantage of the normal moments in life and the conversations with your child to ask them “What if you discovered life on another planet?” or “How many ways can we make a grilled sandwich?” as silly examples. If you ask your child a question, do not accept a response such as “I don’t know”, encourage them that any answer is better than “I don’t know”.


The environment that you create for your child has a direct impact on their knowledge and curiosity. Exposing them to unique experiences and people stimulates the conditions for creative and diversified thoughts. Visits to museums, art galleries, festivals and exploring nature in your area are some ideas as each provides its own perspective on the world and differing perspectives are exactly what 7 to 10-year olds are ready to learn and integrate. Give them times (without a screen or if with a screen, using a development program like scratch jr or a music program) to allow new ideas to come up.


The best teacher your child has is you, their Parent, the person they most trust and love in the world. As you grapple with challenges and look for solutions to problems in daily life, point them out to your child and the let them witness your own creative problem-solving process. From their interactions with you they learn to listen to others thoughts and ideas, and work collaboratively to interact and expand upon concepts. Share your past frustrations and how you overcame them in the end. When your child makes a mistake (or maybe even if they don’t), before correcting them, see if they can “think again”, and come up with a new way of approaching the situation. Creativity is found in all sorts of situations and can be nurtured and encouraged in many ways, even when we are surrounded by pressures to conform.




Bakhshi, H., Downing, J., Osborne, M. and Schneider, P. (2017). The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030. London: Pearson and Nesta.


World Economic Forum (WEF) (2018), Towards a Reskilling Revolution: A future of jobs for all. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/ reports/towards-a-reskilling-revolution