In a recent article in Newsweek, “The Creativity Crisis,” it is reported that for the first time American creativity scores are declining. Children have been tested for creativity and then followed by scholars to see if there is a link between original scores and future proof of creativity lived out in their adult accomplishments. According to the article, “the accepted definition of creativity is production of something original and useful.” Professor Paul Torrence uses a creativity index to predict kids’ creative accomplishments as adults–artists, entrepreneurs, etc. He found that “the correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment was more than three times stronger for childhood creativity than childhood IQ.”

So are our kids destined to be less creative adults since our kids’ scores are declining? How can we encourage more creativity?

I work with parents every day, encouraging them to provide great toys and open-ended props for play–a  blank cardboard box and markers, a scarf, a stick or a Kleenex box. I love when I come to a home and am greeted by a child in a home-made costume by the child himself. Duncan had watched a TV show about a disc jockey and had a Kleenex box taped to a belt around his waist, which was his boom box. Yesterday I was with Christopher who loves Toy Story characters and looked at me in the middle of play and said, “We need the rocket!” He went over to the dining table and brought back a lantern that he unlatched to open and let Buzz and Woody in for a ride!

If parents allow kids to have more unstructured time, give them some props and even play a little  along side them to get the play going, we may see some creativity scores on the rise.