Teaching Your Creative Child

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creative child


I get it! Creative kids tend to be more aloof—more dreamy and lost in their own world. The amount of energy it takes us moms to pull them back to reality is frustrating. Sadly, I’ve wasted many one-on-one math sessions by choosing to mentally wrestle my daughter back to earth. For each problem, frustration built—until I was seething. Not a great recipe for teaching anything, especially math. So, how can we help our creative kids learn in spite of their daydreams?

Choose your time. Timing is everything. Pay attention to your children’s moods. Is there a time they are more in their own world? My daughter is more focused first thing in the morning, then slowly loses her concentration. If I wait until afternoon to work with her, it’s much harder.

Incorporate story. A simple story for math problems can go a long way to engage your creative child’s imagination. Make up a few characters—you could even put them on popsicle sticks—and invent scenarios to help make learning fun.

Do art projects. I feel an eye roll. I know. It’s hard for me to make art happen. But this creative outlet is essential for your artsy children. It will help them in every area! Think of yourself as just a supplier, not an art teacher. Get a few basic supplies and have them take an art break. Basic supplies? Sketchbook, crayons, colored pencils, markers, glue stick, etc. Give them a prompt. (You could prepare several prompts ahead of time and have them draw one out of a container). Color, subject, action. Red dog flying. Blue horse running. Each day they do a new page in their sketchbook.

Incorporate writing time. If my son is super spacey, he can write out his thoughts. Taking a journal break can help ground him and build his writing skills.

Encourage doodling. I let my daughter draw little pictures all over her workbooks. Sometimes it does become a distraction, but for the most part, if she’s still doing her work, it can help her think about the problem creatively. When my husband’s on the phone or in a lecture, he’ll bring a sketchbook and doodle the conversation. The series of abstract lines and shapes doesn’t make much sense to me, but it helps him retain what he’s heard.

Go to outer space. If you can’t pull them back to earth, you’ve got to go up with them. Put those math books away (they weren’t learning it anyway, Mom) and take a space break. This is often shocking for your child but ends up being super fun. The dialogue ends up being something like this:

“Where are we?”

“What do you mean?” (Wide-eyed kid)

You move to the floor, encouraging him/her to follow.

“I just saw Jupiter. Wow! We’re really far away! It’s amazing how God made all these planets!”

“Um, yeah. Hey—there’s Saturn!”

Now you’ve got them. Go around the sun twice, then create an engine failure, and you’ve got to get back to earth because astronauts need math to solve problems . . . hehehe.

Engaging your creative child may be more work for you up front, but it will make life in your homeschool much more pleasant. Leading is so much better than dragging!


Carole Ruffin is wife to Jesse and mom of five wonderful kids. She’s the author of Kids, Crayons, and Christ early elementary art curriculum, and also a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art. She vlogs art instructional videos for elementary students. Here’s her vlog:

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).