You have less control over your environment and the environment in which your children grow than you think. The variables are infinite. For two weeks I’m writing about Creativity’s Terrain and the variables you can control. Yesterday I wrote about The Importance of Solitude.
For extroverted children, the more, the merrier, is the rule. But, regardless of whether a child loves crowds or hangs out more often alone, Creative development requires solitude.
You can protect a child’s time to provide the requisite solitude.
I recently chatted about Creative development in childhood, with my friend, the French novelist Natashka Moreau. She says,
I was trying to figure out what it is that most triggered (or maybe not ‘triggered’ as much as ‘allowed to flow’) my curiosity and creativity. It is that my parents left me alone, quite a bit, when I was young. Although, I think they did that because they saw I was never bored on my own. I already enjoyed being alone. I cherished these solitary times, from a young age.
Being left alone helped me feel even more comfortable about being alone. It gave me a sense of independence. Such independence greatly helped me later on, in my relationships and in my writing… For writing, and for creativity in general, solitude is necessary. Interaction is crucial too, but processing these interactions properly happen through taking a step back and figuring it all out by yourself. I need this thinking time, this retrospection. I don’t know if [my parents] gave me so much time, intentionally, as a sort of discretion, but I am grateful to have had it.
You can also pay attention to a child’s interests or curiosities and pick a perfect gift to enrich their solitude.
- Albert Einstein’s father gave him a magnetic compass to figure out.
- Photographer Ansel Adam’s father gave him a pass to San Francisco’s International Exposition where he studied exhibits at his own pace.
- Creator of Modern Dance, Isadora Duncan’s mother took her to beach, every day, so she could dance with the wind on the sand.
Again, Natashka Moreau says,
My favorite thing I got for birthdays, were little diary books, pale pink with lines. You could close them with a little key, which allowed me to write all kinds of things. They came with ink pens and you would just change the color of the ink to turquoise. Between 5 years of age until I turned about 11, I wrote so much little stuff. Probably not very interesting, though. I don’t know where those books are now.
Later, I used black ink and wrote on white paper.
To play alone children need free time and one good tool, not necessarily a conventional toy, but one with near endless possibilities.