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Creative problem-solving is one of those terms that gets thrown about, but not everyone knows what it means. Kids learn to be creative problem-solvers through various activities; art, imaginative play, woodworking, computer repair and more. When encouraged in kids and teens, creative problem-solving helps them see a set of circumstances or challenges as opportunities rather than accepting them as defeat.

Once we remove rules and regulations about what kids ‘should’ make during periods of hands-on play and exploration, the child is free to express their true self. Allowing art and creative expression to take children and teens wherever their minds travel liberates free-thinking and problem-solving capabilities. Without the restrictions of “coloring within the lines”, the child reveals their innermost interpretation of the world. Creative play and art is a form of communication. Through art, they express emotions they might not yet have the ability to verbalize.

At Zier Institute, we witness creativity within children in drawing activities during individual therapy sessions and group therapy in the workshop, train room, and throughout the clinic. Creative problem-solving skills are born during periods of creative play and make-believe. 

The creative process is the foundation of learning, not only for children but also for their parents and caregivers. When listening or watching children play, the affect they project in their voice and gestures speaks volumes about what they are processing internally. When their guards are down and creative energy is flowing, children expose that which may be upsetting or confusing.

Multi-sensory experiences that kids’ touch, taste, hear, see, smell, and feel stay with them long after the lesson is over. In this space, curiosity for the world is born, not by repeating or memorizing facts but through the creative journey. 

The richer sensory domains we can reach with children, the “stickier” learning becomes. In our visual world of letters, numbers, and images, kids learn to connect symbols to create a broader view of the world. As they mature, children begin to collaborate with others to create longer and more meaningful symbolic images. At first, it’s a lumberjack or a tree, but as they start to gain confidence and venture into linking symbols, the picture includes an ax, fire, wildlife, etc. 

Art and its proprioceptive sensory components help us see and feel our body in space. Creative projects, such as crafts, music, and construction, provide challenges children yearn to solve. Will this music sound better if I sit or stand? What happens if I mix paint colors and create different textures with my fingers rather than a paintbrush? Kids learn the harder they push on clay, the stronger it becomes – as do the memories and skills built through creative-problem solving.