For most parents, teaching their little one practical life skills, such as how to make their beds or how to fold clothes, takes precedence over creative thinking skills. But nurturing creativity in kids is critical too. This is because children, who are used to thinking creatively, are more likely to be able to solve problems easily than those, who simply abide by a set of protocol when looking for solutions to the problem. Creative thinking serves them far beyond their childhood years.
There are endless opportunities to ask interesting questions and foster your child’s creativity through day-to-day activities. Here are 7 simple but brilliant ideas to get you started –
1. Designate a space for creating
Carving out space where your kid can be creative is important. You don’t need a large fancy playroom for that – it could be a small corner in the house with a stack of crates or LEGO boxes, or just a box full of clothes so they can play dress-up. Having a designated space gives the child a sense of power over that space and allows him/her to use that corner to display their creative minds. So the next time you order something that’s delivered in a large cardboard box, keep it out in the open and let your kid decide what he/she wants it to be – a castle, a fort, or a spaceship.
2. Play with them
No matter how busy you might be doing household chores, find some time to play with your little ones, and most importantly, follow their leads. Whether you’re flying to the moon in their make-believe rocket ship or chasing dragons in their imaginary world, allow them to lead or guide the play. This sends out the message that you prioritize and support their creative space. You can also ask your child to show you some fun tricks or teach you more about the game or the specific character that you two are playing. As you follow their steps, they get more engrossed in the game and are likely to come up with a fascinating storyline and new characters, thus making things more interesting and creative.
3. Celebrate brainstorming and ideas
Creativity goes way beyond artistic expressions. Being creative means coming up with new ideas or putting things in a way that nobody would think of in plain sight. Encourage kids to jot down ideas on a paper or doodle their thoughts through brainstorming sessions to solve problems. If your child needs a bit of help solving problems, don’t give in immediately by answering their queries. Instead, ask for their opinion first – what they think should be done, or what would they do in so-and-so situation. This will make them feel important and help them believe that it is alright to share ideas, no matter how out of the box it may seem!
4. Stock up on art supplies
Children love to explore new ways of using things, so make sure you are well-stocked with a boxful of items, like craft sticks to cotton balls, beads, and rhinestones along with a variety of coloured pencils, crayons and markers. Before you recycle or discard small items, ask yourself if they have a place in the art supply box, where kids can easily get to it and display their artistic skills and creativity. You could assign them weekly projects and see how they progress with every attempt. Whether it’s crafting, painting, or writing, stay engaged and applaud as they show you their work. Ask questions about the artistic process and thoughts behind their choices. Ask them to narrate the story behind the art.
5. Show them your creative side
Children often learn more from what you do than what you say. So when they see you exploring your creativity, they will incorporate that example within themselves. Be their role model. Pursue a hobby or try your hand at creativity to inspire your little one. Sit with them to write poems, or paint the wall to create your very own abstract design. This will give you an opportunity to bond with them and make them feel a lot safer as they would know who to look up to and confide in.
6. Expose them to open-ended toys
You should be careful when picking toys for the kids. They often serve as great tools for improving motor and social skills. Open-ended toys, particularly, can be used in multiple creative ways depending on the child’s ingenuity and imagination. Magnetic tile sets, building blocks, puzzles, kitchen set – anything that can be used in various ways for multiple purposes will foster creativity and imaginative play.
7. Offer encouraging feedback, not criticism
While it’s important to learn to accept criticism, kids may not particularly feel appreciated or encouraged when that comes from parents – especially about something they have put their heart and soul to create. Your role here should be that of a cheerleader and not a judge. The child’s creation may not always be stellar but if they’ve put so much thought and effort into it, and are proud of their creation, they sure deserve a little pat on the back. Compliment their work, appreciate their hard work – a few encouraging words like ‘Oh look what you’ve made, it’s so beautiful!’ or ‘Good job! You must’ve worked really hard on it’ are all it takes. Always find something positive to say. Encouragement teaches one better than criticism does.
Fostering a creative environment at home is a great way to instil a positive mindset and skills in children that will lead their path to a promising future. Besides, it can also make your home a fun place, especially when they are stuck at home due to the ongoing Coronavirus lockdown. No matter the age, we all could draw inspiration from the little things and joys of life while broadening our kinds and nurturing our imagination each day.