Kids are natural creators, and when left to their own devices, they’ll come up with new games and activities on the fly. Creativity is essential for people of all ages, and developing a sense of imagination at a young age paves the way for healthier, more intelligent kids. It strengthens critical thinking and problem solving skills, and it can even boost a child’s emotional intelligence and help them cope with stress. Below are some ways that parents can support their child’s creative flow and keep it alive over time.
1. Foster a Creative Environment
Your child doesn’t need a fully furnished art studio, but they should have a space in the home specifically for exploratory play and creating. This could be a corner in the living room that has arts and crafts supplies or an entire playroom where they can build, draw, and play make-believe. Rather than worrying about the area being huge, parents should focus more on making a space where their child is in charge of the creative process. This is meant to be a place where kids can get messy and unleash their ideas.
2. Get Back to Basics
Children don’t need state-of-the-art supplies, and they don’t expect them either. Legos, PlayDough, Lincoln Logs, and scrap or construction paper will do the trick. Even in underdeveloped countries, kids find ways to play games and make things with random objects around the house. It’s amazing what children come up with while playing with such basic items as leaves, tissue paper, and pipe cleaners. Depending on a child’s interests, they may prefer to play with building blocks, coloring books, or mom and dad’s old clothes.
3. Encourage Unstructured Playtime
The creative process doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and sometimes setting a schedule for art or playtime can cramp kids’ style. Instead, try getting artsy in various settings and at different times of day. A child might enjoy helping out with dinner prep or working in the garden. An impromptu romp in the snow or leaf collecting are fun outdoor activities that can awaken kids’ imaginations without being structured playtime. It’s important for children to realize that thinking outside the box isn’t just for playtime, but it can be applied to all sorts of everyday situations.
4. Engage the Five Senses
Art isn’t just about what people see; the five senses can play a crucial role in creativity and imagination. At mealtimes, parents can prompt their children about the food on their plates – what it tastes, smells, and feels like. Which foods have similar qualities? What other dishes could be made with those ingredients? Another idea is taking kids to a new location, such as an art museum, park, library, or community center. Looking at paintings or reading books can help children imagine new worlds and distance lands. Engaging the five senses helps them get a better picture of these new places, and their creativity will soar.
5. Talk About It
The more parents know about their child’s creative process, the more they can help with it. Ask kids questions about their favorite time or place to play, and try to incorporate that more into daily life. Sometimes it’s useful to have a sketchbook handy that can travel with kids when they go to the library, park, or school. They can write down ideas and inspiration down and go over it with their parents at the end of the day. It’s a great way for both parent and child to be on the same page and work together on bringing out their full creative potential.
6. Approach a Different Way of Thinking
Creativity and problem-solving skills go hand-in-hand, so parents can use art and playtime to boost their child’s critical thinking skills. Opportunities for this pop up throughout the day, such as when cooking, drawing, building with blocks or Legos, and reading books. While reading, parents can ask their children what they would do if they were in a character’s situation. Maybe kids can think of another way to achieve a similar result when playing with Legos. Or, they can imagine how their food would taste differently if they used other ingredients or spices.
7. Let Them Be the Boss
It’s easy for parents to want to be involved in every aspect of their child’s life, but being a helicopter parent has its downsides. Constantly managing what kids do or how they approach a problem can limit their critical thinking skills and even discourage them from using their own imaginations. Just as unstructured playtime can be great for children’s creativity, so can stepping back and letting kids come to their own conclusions about how things work. Youngsters tend to deal with failure well, and they’ll often try to tweak their approach to get a different result. Step back and enjoy that learning process.
8. Include Their Hobbies and Interests
Kids are much more likely to participate in games and activities if they focus on their own interests. Almost any hobby can be centered around art or creating, so parents should try to feed their child’s interests in an imaginative way. If they’re into dinosaurs, give them figurines and books about them. If their passion is music, listen to different genres with them and try crafting homemade instruments like drums, maracas, and a guitar. Some other possibilities include cooking, dancing, and sculpture.
9. Get Yourself Involved
Children are like sponges, and they absorb what their parents do. They tend to follow in their footsteps. If they never see mom or dad participating in creative activities, they might be less likely to follow their own artistic pursuits. By joining their kids in dress-up, coloring, building blocks, or make-believe, parents form a closer bond with their children and reawaken their own creative spirit. It’s a win-win for everyone.
These nine tips can bring more joy and fun to everyday life while increasing kids’ confidence and social skills. Being creative doesn’t only mean drawing pretty pictures and constructing Lego towers; it gives kids a whole new way to look at the world.
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