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The Globe and Mail

How to encourage creativity in your children

The next time your children have to come up with an idea for a school project, get them to propose as many possibilities as they can.

"Ask them, 'What else could you do,' or 'What other ideas do you have,' " said Rex Jung, a neuroscientist at the University of New Mexico who studies creativity.

You can sometimes do the same thing when children ask you a question, he says. Get them to put forward as many answers as possible.

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But it is also important to help children develop a thick skin if they are wrong or their ideas don't pan out, he says.

In the classroom, if children know they are going to be tested on a topic or material, they tend to be less creative in their approach to it, says James Kaufman, a researcher at California State University.

He suggests teachers set aside time for students to play with concepts or ideas when they know they won't be tested on them or after they have been quizzed.

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