An abstract concept, creativity is often associated with geniuses, artists and uninhibited children left alone with scissors and a cardboard box. Myths swirl around creativity: It’s an inborn gift. It’s got nothing to do with ‘real-life.’ It vanishes with age.
If you’ve ever witnessed a child’s creativity - whether it’s dress-up and imaginative play, tinkering with gadgets (even when they’re not supposed to), or designing towers with Legos - you know there is an instinctive component to creative play, some sort of magic that happens when the right kids in the right context light the right spark.
And it seems to happen easier for some than for others.
So why is it that one child sees a pile of building blocks and instantly envisions a futuristic skyline, and others look at the same pile and announce, “I’m bored!”?
Researchers — from psychologists to neuroscientists to educators — are showing that creativity is not a fixed trait. Nor is it a fleeting stage of child development, destined to evaporate during adolescence for those who are not “naturally” creative. Like its counterpart — critical thinking skills (stay tuned for our upcoming post...) — creativity is something that can be fostered, a muscle that we can strengthen — given the proper conditions.
More than just art projects, creativity is about making connections, problem-solving, and finding the spark to present a new idea. (More on ‘original ideas’ soon.)
Once you broaden the definition, creative activities are not about the medium you’re using or the issue you’re tackling. When you...
...focus more on process than product,
...respect the possibility of multiple approaches to a single problem,
...and when you get inspired by the world around you,
you’re using — and building — your creative thinking skills.
Creativity is as relevant in STEM fields as it is in the arts; it’s as much about self-expression as it is about empathy; and it can empower you to develop fantasy worlds and to dig deep into the world that’s right at your fingertips.
Creativity, as we understand it at Prisma, is also the most profound way to demonstrate mastery of material. We take a constructionist philosophy, which means that you haven’t truly learned something unless you can externalize it: It’s never about regurgitating information, it’s about absorbing new ideas and then using them to create something of your own that you then share with others.
Creativity is a form of self-expression, but the creative process doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The most creative people have the deepest and widest range of knowledge. Everyone takes inspiration from somewhere when they're coming up with new ideas.
Whether it’s people-watching in a new part of town, strolling through a new ecosystem, or tasting a new genre of book, film or tv — expose kids to new and different things from a young age. If they are always in the same environment, always reading and watching the same things, playing the same games, and interacting with the same people, they're not going to have that new well of inspiration from which to draw.
New and different experiences, exposure to new and different ideas, preps the soil of creativity.
Inspiration can come from anywhere, but who better to learn from than our favorite artists, inventors and performers? Encourage remixing and copying the songs, books and images your kids love; it’s how they’ll learn creative techniques.
In our cycle theme dedicated to creativity, “Remix,” inspired by ideas such as those in Kirby Ferguson’s “Everything is a Remix” and Austin Kleon’s “Steal Like an Artist", we bring those ideas into the curriculum. We teach kids the difference between plagiarism (passing off someone else’s ideas as your own) and inspiration (learning by making an attributed mashup of somebody’s else’s ideas).
Try these activities inspired by real Prisma projects in our “Remix” theme to ‘steal like an artist’:
-Take inspiration from two different artists or musicians to create your own work of art.
-Upcycle by taking materials meant for one purpose and transforming them into something else.
-Create fan fiction based on a favorite movie or book (write a prequel or sequel, retell the same story from a different perspective).
For kids who already know what they like, it’s important to shake up the snow globe every so often, so they’re getting fresh input. Try building on the creative activity they already like, by introducing a new tool:
-If you have a kid who really likes drawing on their iPad offer them traditional art supplies and vice versa.
-If you have a kid who loves to code games, invite them to experiment with robotics.
-If you have a kid who loves stories, introduce them to an app like Scratch that teaches coding through storytelling and animation.
-If you have a kid who loves music, let them record their own compositions using tools like Garage Band.
Balancing newness and familiarity can often be the recipe that allows kids to venture out of their comfort zone willingly.
Creative thinking may happen when you’re lying in a field, staring at the clouds passing by — but most creative people also require structure to do their best work (a belief shared by the Montessori approach).
At Prisma we balance those twin needs in the open-ended, creative projects that are the focus of each academic cycle. This project-based approach, in which kids choose from a series of broad project prompts, allows them to hone problem-solving skills in real-world contexts, ensuring they develop core competencies without making them follow step-by-step instructions.
At the same time, sometimes kids truly need to be off the clock. (Cloud-gazing encouraged!) Give kids unstructured free time and unstructured explorations, whether it’s for free play or a self-directed research project, as many of our learners choose to try.
Whatever the outcome, they’ll be adding to the well of knowledge from which they’ll be able to draw at any time.
A misplaced word of criticism, however well-meant, can stifle children’s creativity — especially in the early stages of a project. So make sure to give kids ample space to explore and to decide for themselves if they’re on the path that feels right to them.
When they come to you in search of approval, take the opportunity to ask them open-ended questions about their process, which helps them learn the skill of meta-cognition (thinking about thinking).
On the flip side, part of healthy child development involves learning to take feedback; it’s part of the growth mindset. Any good creative needs to have an audience in mind and to be able to iterate on their ideas.
As kids work through a creative idea, it helps for them to get feedback from multiple perspectives, whether parents, peers or teachers. When our Prisma learners gather feedback on their projects midway through a cycle, part of their task is to weigh the various options and perspectives before deciding which to incorporate and which to let go.
When you internalize the fact that there are infinite ways to approach an idea, you become more tolerant of different perspectives. Even something as apparently as straightforward as a math problem can be an opportunity to reinforce creative development: If you teach them there is more than one way to get to an answer — but all are equally valid — you go a long way in fostering creativity.
From national parks to beach vacations, design an in-the-field learning experience the whole family will enjoy
Online learning takes many forms. Decide why you want to go remote — and the rest will fall into place.
Here’s how parents of ADHD children can set themselves up for successful learning at home.
Online learning doesn’t have to be distracting. These tips can prime your child to thrive at home.
From early childhood through high school, homeschooling provides the ideal setting to facilitate a gifted child’s learning. Here’s how.
And how can you support them in the classroom?
From fostering a love of learning to developing problem-solving skills, child-initiated learning is a pillar of a successful homeschooling journey. Here’s how to get started.
Focus on number sense and you’ll help your child add math skills to their toolkit.
Combine fun with a pinch of self-discipline, and you’ll be well on your way to a wellness routine your child wants to follow.
Kids need to develop their own world as they mature. But the stereotype of the zip-lipped pre-teen doesn’t have to be your reality.
It’s not easy to juggle full-time work and homeschooling — but it is possible. Here’s what we’ve learned about how to thrive.
Learning languages opens doors, offers connections and inspires new ways of thinking. Here’s some advice about which one(s) to pick.
Critical thinking matters for academics, work and relationships. Here’s how to lay the foundations at home.
Read about the hands-on learning opportunities one Prisma high schooler tackled in the Secrets of the Biosphere theme
Traditional four-year college is only one option. Here’s how to inform your decision.
The Montessori approach focuses on early childhood. Here’s how the popular pedagogical method can lend itself to home-based learning for all ages.
Here’s what parents need to know about the popular social media network.
Here’s what every parent should know about facilitating a routine that works for the whole family.
Hands-on learning benefits all students. Here’s how to incorporate it into your homeschooling.
There’s no evidence to confirm the validity of these popular labels. But here’s how auditory learning strategies can benefit everyone.
Although no studies link these popular labels to academic achievement, here’s how visual learning helps everyone.
Here’s what parents need to know about the free, popular chat app.
Incorporate these reading tips into your routine, and you’ll be on your way to fostering a love of reading in your child.
Ready to Deck the Halls? Here are projects to engage kids of all ages—and tackle your seasonal shopping with DIY keepsakes.
More than just asking questions in the classroom, the Socratic Method helps learners test their own ideas in a real-life context.
Here are some guidelines to help sift through the infinite options.
When students set the conditions of their learning experience, they show more creativity, passion and sticktuitiveness.
With built-in lesson plans, educational tools, and endless problem-solving opportunities, Minecraft: Education Edition can help motivate kids in coding, science, language arts, and more.
Get into the spirit of gratitude with these easy Thanksgiving crafts for kids.
Teach children gratitude and they’ll experience better mental health, well being and social connection.
8 tips to ensure learning disabilities don’t get in the way of building reading skills.
Why does your child dread Mondays? Once you know, take these steps to help them (re)discover their spark.
To stop bullying behavior, educate yourselves and your children.
Bullying is about a power dynamic between peers. To interrupt it, first understand why it happens.
Children’s Mental Health is in Crisis. Here’s How to Help Develop Your Child’s Self-Esteem.
To reach their high potential, twice-exceptional children benefit from a flexible learning environment.
The holiday season is the time to get your hands dirty with these Halloween craft ideas - candy corn optional.
Dyslexic kids often lose their love of learning. Here’s how parents can help them rediscover it.
The challenges of adolescence can be magnified for LGBTQ kids. Here’s how to help them thrive.
From bullying to finding a safe bathroom, LGBTQ students navigate a tough landscape at school.
What we know about the relationship between ‘hard fun’ and learning. (Hint: It’s not about playing games in between worksheets.)
Here’s what we mean by ‘success’ at Prisma - and how we use it to help kids thrive.
What parents need to know about socialization in—and out of—the classroom to help your homeschooler thrive.
Child entrepreneurship is trending. Here are three steps to developing an innovative business that stands out from the crowd.
A hands-on approach to develop real-world skills, resiliency and a love of learning — here’s how we practice it at Prisma.
A Shared Name and Diverse Strengths Led Two Bens to Build an AI Writing Business.
When traditional public school isn’t the best option, consider these alternatives.
Five ways parents can help their kids see themselves as a work in progress.
Gifted kids face unique challenges when it comes to burnout. Here’s how parents can help.
For travel-hungry families dreaming of school vacation, there’s much to celebrate about shifts in the way we live, work and educate our children.
To create a customized education for your child takes more than a checklist. This three-stage framework can help you get started.
If you’re homeschool-curious, here’s what 100 families have to say about the biggest advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling.
With homeschooling, the sky’s the limit – and there’s a lot on your plate. Learn about how to make this growing trend work for your family.
Learning how to use the internet safely, smartly, and creatively is one of the most essential skills for success in our hyper-connected world. Prisma learners just wrapped up their Cyber Citizens learning
A live learning platform purpose-built for kids. It's a new, fun and engaging way for kids to learn and collaborate together virtually.
Technology has completely revolutionized how we shop, communicate, entertain ourselves, and even how we work, but no such revolution has happened in education.
We’ve officially wrapped up our first ever fall session at Prisma and are excited to share our learnings and observations with you.
Claire Cummings is one of our new Learning Coaches joining us for Winter Session starting in January 2021. Claire is based in Detroit, Michigan!
In our Meet the Team blog series, you’ll get to read more about the innovative thinkers behind Prisma.Next up is Leena Williams, the Founding Learning Coach for Prisma based in Tampa, Florida.
Starting today, families can apply to join Prisma from anywhere in the USA. Here’s how it will work. You can still apply to any of our five founding cohort hubs (Chicago, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, or Tampa) if you live nearby.
In our Meet the Team blog series, you’ll get to read more about the innovative thinkers behind Prisma. Next up is Emily Veno, one of two founding learning experience designers for Prisma.
Over the past week, as millions of parents have realized that traditional in-person schooling may not be safe or available come September, a new twist on an old phenomenon has emerged.
We're kicking off a "Meet the team" blog series. First up is Kristen Shroff, one of two Founding Learning Experience Designers at Prisma. As a Learning Experience Designer, Kristen has been working on dreaming up the Prisma calendar and schedule, developing the curriculum for Knowledge and Worldview Badges, and hiring our first group of learning coaches.
We're excited to announce the rollout of Prisma cohorts in 5 US cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Tampa and Salt Lake City.
We’re Prisma, and today we’re announcing the world’s first Connected Learning Network, a whole new category in education. We’re not a school in the conventional sense; we’re a locally-rooted, globally connected at-home learning network that gives kids the tools to live their optimal life, starting today.
First-time Poet Wins “Games for Change Student Challenge” with “Poem of PvZ”.