Homeschool parents frequently ask, "How can I help my creative child?" In this article I want to consider three areas that will impact the answer to that question: the stages in the creative process, understanding a creative child, and the characteristics of the creative child.

Because we are created in God's image, we are gifted with creativity, but we are surrounded by ample evidence that not all are equally endowed in this category. To some extent, every individual sets his own range for normal. We look out for those below average, accept the average, and wonder what to do with those who are considered more creative than the average. The challenge at each level is to effectively develop and use the creative ability God has provided each child.

Dorye Roettger, a 20th-century writer, identified the catalyst for creativity. He declared, "There are no problems—only opportunities to be creative." Human creativity stems from perceived problems, and as long as the status quo is satisfactory, there will be no attempts to change or create something new. One of the frustrations in coping with a creative child is that his perceived problem is not a predicament for adults. Consequently, the child's efforts are often misunderstood and unappreciated.

Stages in the Creative Process

Some people cause problems, others attract them, but creative minds seek to solve them.

Are you living with a child like Miles Davis? This is how he described himself: "I'm always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning. Every day I find something creative to do with my life."

Creative individuals are visionaries. They see possibilities. They understand the biblical statement, "Where there is no vision, the people perish!" They have no desire to perish and are willing to do something about the present circumstances.

The First Stage in the Creative Process Is Preparation

Problems may be easily recognized and identified without any commitment to deal with them being made. But it is impossible to expend energy on a problem without having a starting point. Preparation is the first phase in the creative process. Spontaneous, haphazard, or well thought-out plans tackle these questions: How will I solve the problem that annoys me? What can I do about this issue?

For children and many adults, the urge to do something about the problem is usually accompanied by a sense of urgency, so the well thought-out approach is seldom the chosen option. Frequently, the early stages of this process seem designed to make the mess as big as possible, including innumerable delaying tactics. The vocal inflection in the parental question, "What in the world are you doing?" reveals a complete lack of appreciation for the obvious unfinished task.

One reason for the "big mess" approach is the creative individual's desire to bring order out of his "own" chaos. He has to insert his confusion into the mess. Pablo Picasso hinted at this unique method with this confession: "I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it."

The parents of a creative child could profitably observe how their child approaches problem solving. We don't always remember our successful approaches, so parental analysis could be a gift to the child at a time when the child is struggling in his attempts to discover solutions to more difficult problems. At those moments when your child is in a giving-up mood, it could be wise to remember the advice of Sarah Ban Breathnach: "As the season of believing seems to wind down, let me gently remind you that many dreams still wait in the wings. Many authentic sparks must be fanned before passion performs her perfect work in you. Throw another log on the fire."

Your creative child needs help in realizing that failure is not final. Joseph Chilton Pierce advised honestly, "To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong."