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In June 2022, Peerbagh was not a nonprofit yet, but a monthly children’s magazine that launched a survey to understand how parents were exploring creative pursuits for kids. Parenting tips on how to nurture creativity in kids is not a one-size-fits all because we all go through different seasons. But there is enough research to show why creativity matters- not just if a child is learning how to write, but as a life skill. The survey had interesting findings overall, and as parents we found many of the findings validating our own experiences.

Storytelling as a life skill

But first let us dig into why creative explorations are important for all kids. In a groundbreaking 2012 study of nearly 196 students, Taiwanese researchers investigated the profound connection between reading, writing, and creativity, revealing insights that resonate with parents’ intuition. Students who spent more time on reading/writing performed significantly better on the creativity test. We often think that creativity is an inborn talent, but like many other skills, we can learn how to be more creative. Strong creative thinking is important for all fields as it improves problem solving skills.

Every child possesses storytelling abilities, and nurturing creative expression should encompass both verbal and visual forms. Introducing reading and writing habits from a young age not only ignites lifelong passions but also enhances elaboration skills and strong communication abilities. Writing, in particular, aids children in understanding and processing their emotions, contributing to emotionally rich lives.

But parents do not feel fully supported

The 2022 Peerbagh global survey* showed that 1 in every 2 parents felt that they lacked options for creative explorations. About 24% parents were subscribing to curated online content for tips, but still felt a gap. About 11% parents did not use reading or books to engage children. On the other hand, more than 80% parents were using mobiles, TVs, or games as entertainment. The good news is that over 68% parents use hobby classes as a way to engage children creatively. As an organization committed to building storytellers, we believe we can definitely help to create spaces where books can become more prominent in how we engage with kids.

Parents with diverse identities have additional challenges

With low representation (less than 30%) in books, parents of kids with diverse identities face additional challenges. South-Asians often work with multiple languages and that complicates things further. Within the South-Asian families, there has historically been an emphasis on STEM fields often at the expense of creative exploration. While this is slowly changing, research points to the strong connections between critical thinking, the power of exploration, and communication skills all connected to developing creatively. This is relevant for a child or an adult.

Now research shows there is motivation in teaching your kids heritage South-Asian languages not only to be able to communicate to grandparents but develop holistically as creative individuals. Research points to a positive relationship between writing in multiple languages, and connects it to increased creative thinking.

nurture creativity in kids

For parents wondering where to begin their journey of fostering creativity, you can start now with a couple of tips:

  1. Adult modeling: Lead by example on exploratory library and museum visits. Austin offers free museum Sundays every month for creative explorations. If you do not have access to a museum, read #3.
  2. Creative workshops: We are currently hosting free Katha (story) workshop tailored for kids, drawing inspiration from South-Asian storytelling from September 28th to November 2nd, on a weekly cadence at Austin Public Library’s Hampton branch. You can also join the South-Asian heritage day at the Spicewood Springs branch of the Austin Public Library on October 28th that includes creative workshops and story time. We will have more workshops coming up to close the year, keep watching!
  3. Books: A growing number of South-Asian authors are crafting books that celebrate desi folklore and protagonists. When children encounter their culture and lives mirrored in media, they experience validation and visibility.
    desi kid lit list, Peerbagh Journal’s Diverse book finder, Desibooks on Goodreads are some of the places online to find South-Asian children’s book recommendations.

Some new South-Asian bilingual books for kids we love include:

  • Kahani Purani by Pridhee Kumar Gupta in Hindi and English with beautiful illustrations for ages 0-2.
  • Chalo Jungle Chalein by Balveen Singh that is in Hindi and English for little kids for ages 3-8.
  • Ravan’s Lost Boon by Vatsala Kakroo that is in English and Kashmiri with tons of art and engaging Diwali activities for ages 8-12.

For parents seeking motivation to pass on their culture, language, and culinary traditions to their children, consider this your catalyst. Ultimately, every parent aspires to nurture their children into creative thinkers poised to shape the future.

Our 2024 research on parenting challenges will be launched in October. We will share it with everyone to participate and help us get the data around these topics out into the world.

*Note: Research conducted in June 2022, total respondents 289, with 70% respondents between 25-45 years, and ~50% male/female split