The wonderful thing is that children don’t need to be taught how to be creative! It is innate in all of us. At most we just need to nurture their creativity and let them take the lead.
We often think as creativity as a wishy washy quality. But fostering creativity is critical. Dr Bobbi Wegner, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist in Boston says: "A child who is used to thinking creatively can more easily problem-solve than a child who follows a rigid protocol when searching for a solution to a problem."
Creative thinking serves them far beyond their childhood years.
Fuel your child’s creative thinking at home with these simple tools and strategies.
- Give them free time.
Too much structure can be exhausting and limiting to creativity. Letting children have down time with absolutely nothing planned gives children the time to explore their imaginations. Being bored is a good thing. It pushes children to come up with their own ways of being.
- Provide open ended toys.
Open ended materials are things that children can use in a variety of ways and fosters the process of exploration and inspires creative play. See our blog on “The Power of Open Ended Play” for some great ideas.
- Have a designated creative play station.
Depending what your child is in to will determine how you stock this. Paints & craft for little artists. Nuts and bolts for the budding builder. A box of empty cardboard boxes and odds and ends for toddlers to build a masterpiece. Be guided by what your child is passionate about. Change it as their interests evolve and change.
- Encourage creativity in different aspects of their life.
Being creative means coming up with a new idea or putting things together in a way that hasn’t been done before. Give them fruit and vegetable slices and ask them to make food art. Depending on age, give them some input into their choice of clothes for the day. Even if it is wacky and offbeat, tell them you love their style. Encourage creative thinking by brainstorming answers to questions they may ask.
- Take some time to actively play with child and let them take the lead.
Resist the temptation to guide the play, let them direct you on how it should play out. This type of play fosters not only creativity, but also leadership skills and self confidence. Encourage children to change the rules of games that you play together.
- Go for a nature walk & get creative.
Collect leaves, rocks, flowers or seed pods. Get creative with nature. Use the things you have collected by creating a collage, adding them to play doh or by making a natural ‘mini’ world.
- Let your child be a mad scientist and create a magic potion.
Yes this does involve letting them go wild in the kitchen and having full access to the cupboard & fridge. Let them mix ingredients together and spark their imagination by asking what magic potion they have created. Getting children to help clean up the mess is a lesson in itself.
- Value their creativity.
Try and let your children be involved in what you are doing no matter what kind of mess they make or if they are doing it wrong. It shows that you value their ideas and creativity. Get creative together. Bounce ideas off each other.
- Make up wacky stories together.
Depending on their age, let children create a wildly imaginative story using puppets, magnets or dress ups. You could start the story with the first sentence and let your child take over.
- Praise and encourage creativity.
Remember it’s the journey not the outcome that is important. Don’t confine creativity with an adult’s perspective. Refrain from suggestions about how to improve. Give detailed compliments so that the child knows you are really interested in their creation. “I just love how you have made the sky pink” Instead of, “Shouldn’t the sky be blue darling?” This validates the child’s own unique creativity.
There is a creative genius in all of us. Nurture your own creativity and enjoy the journey.