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5 ways to foster innovation in your child

There’s no denying that innovation is key skill when it comes to your child’s future. Innovative thinking will allow them to see opportunities, use their creative ideas and develop independent problem solving skills. These skills are essential for becoming ‘work ready’ but also ‘life ready’. Innovation is not something we’re born with, it is a skill that we can help our child to develop.

Boy with magnifying glass

Develop curiosity

Encourage a curious way of thinking. Model asking questions out loud so your child hears, such as ‘I wonder why… how… what will happen if we…’. The endless barrage of ‘why’ questions from your child can sometimes feel relentless, however this is curious thinking at play! Encourage them to write them down to be revisited at an appropriate time.

Use open ended questions

If we want our child to be adept at critical thinking, we need to let them build this habit. Asking open ended questions to your child will encourage them to develop critical thinking. Starting your questions with ‘why, how, where, when’ forces your child to justify and explain their thinking, often referencing evidence. You can also model how you ask yourself these types of questions when making decisions.

Encourage risk taking

Creative thinking and innovation are underpinned by a readiness to take risks and make mistakes. One of the most simple things you can do for your child is create a culture whereby your child is encouraged to take healthy risks. If you’re met with ‘But what if it goes wrong..?’ help them flip this way of thinking and ask ‘But what if it goes right?’. Try and adopt the family mantra of ‘if we don’t try, we won’t know’ or ‘you don’t need to be amazing to start, but you do have to start to be amazing’.

Let them choose & decide

With young children it can be all too tempting to over model how they should use certain resources, toys and equipment. Try to remember to hold back when it comes to showing them how it should be done and let your child discover for themselves how to use the things they have in front of them. This includes allowing them to come up with new uses and different ways of completing tasks. The ability to see new ways of doing things is a brilliant foundation for innovation.

Provide a purpose

Innovation is often sparked and nurtured when there is a clear purpose at play. Asking your child to help solve a challenge, come up with a solution or make something that will genuinely help solve a problem is a sure fire way to light the spark of their creative thinking.

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  • Growing an idea
  • Steps to solve a problem
  • Independent decision making

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This article was written by Louise Treherne, Director of Character Education at Role Models. Louise has a degree in Psychology, 12 years experience as a teacher, including 5 years as a Senior Deputy Head at a London Prep school. She now works as a Professional Coach and Educational Consultant.

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