On the other hand, independent learners hear only part of the instructions, just enough to get the juices flowing. They never ask for help, and they proceed to do what they think is the assignment. The final result misses the goal, but it's not too far off-center. Do you applaud their independence or scold their failure to follow instructions?

Creative Children Seem to Be More Perceptive of Details

Creative children see shades and shadows in their field of interest. They are looking for more than the obvious. They want a twist or surprise.

Creative Children Set Their Own Goals and Standards

I never completely understood this point until the day I defended my doctoral dissertation. After I was told that I had passed, Helen Sornsen, a member of my doctoral committee, said, "You know you wrote two dissertations, don't you? Your committee would have been satisfied with either one." Recovering from shock, I asked, "What do you mean?"

"Well, you wrote one dissertation on creativity and another one on children's creative writing." She smiled.

"Why didn't you tell me?" I was confused. I recalled the many hours I had spent doing the research and computing the statistics.

Her response was memorable. Now, 46 years later, I am even more convinced that she stated one of the greatest motivations for creativity. She said, "You wouldn't have been satisfied."

And she was right. The urge to do something is an impulse to be creative. The accolades and approval of others are never as satisfying as knowing you have done your best and reached your goal. Sometimes it is even easier to please others than it is to please yourself.

Characteristics of the Creative Child

The process of understanding anything is simplified if we have specific things to look for. Humanity may be scrutinized and evaluated on scores of specific characteristics. For our purposes, I would like to consider 10.

1.)     The creative child is intelligent. It is impossible to create without substance, but genius is not required. It is important to recognize this amazing fact: an individual may be highly intelligent in some areas, and average or below average in other disciplines. Likewise, it is possible to be highly creative in one field and average in most others.

2.)     The creative child is an idea person. Creative individuals have the ability to consider multiple ways to solve problems. However, the conception of an idea does not assure the capacity to develop and/or implement the idea. Knowing what needs to be done is only the first step.

3.)     The creative child has a keen perception of himself in his world. As long as he is permitted to stay in his world, he understands and appreciates who he is and what he can do. He knows his boundaries, but he is willing to push them on his terms.

4.)     The creative child is not afraid to be different or to differ with others. He is more likely to start a fad than to follow one. For him, being different is not a burden to bear but a badge of honor—if his self-esteem has not been crushed by criticism about his style in dress, design, or even behavior.

5.)     The creative child is relatively uninhibited. He is not afraid to take chances. He may clearly understand the boundaries, but he would probably like to push them in one direction or another.

6.)     The creative child can be completely focused on a project if it offers something different. The child who seems flighty, lackadaisical, disinterested, or bored can shift to 100% involvement if it is his project or his idea. No amount of time is too great to spend on his vision. Egocentric? Maybe, but most of the things we enjoy were designed, created, or invented by people who could stay on the task until the problem was solved.