Creativity can open doors of all kinds for kids, and being creative is the truest form of self-expression. Is there anything more wondrous than watching your children think for themselves, create and celebrate their uniqueness? "The ability to be creative, to create something from personal feelings and experiences, can reflect and nurture children's emotional health," according to PBS. "The experiences children have during their first years of life can significantly enhance the development of their creativity."
With the coronavirus pandemic shutting down schools and after-school activities, children need creative outlets now more than ever before. Yet social distancing and quarantines make it a challenge for parents to foster creativity. The good news is that there are ways to get creativity delivered right to your front door.
As parents, nurturing your children's creativity can allow them to become inventors, problem solvers, entrepreneurs – anything they want to be. Here are 10 ways to encourage creativity in kids:
1. Create a Space
Pick a room or an area in your home that’s specifically for creativity. This can be an entire playroom or just a space in the corner of their room or even in the kitchen. Set the scene with a small table and chair, then fill it with items to spark creativity. These items don’t have to be fancy: art supplies, blocks, loose parts, craft kits and clothes for dress-up play are good things to start with. Ask your children what they want so they feel it really is their space.
2. Get Creativity Delivered
With many families now being housebound because of health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, there's no better time than now to check out subscription services that send quality products and new ideas right to your door each month. Companies like www.sagominibox.com make it easy to have creative activities on hand at all times by delivering monthly magic right to your mailbox. Designed to educate and engage kids' imaginations, each box is packed with make-and-play activities that teach skills to kids through the power of play. Plus, it enables parents to spend quality time with their kids without having to do all the planning or shopping. In just a few clicks, you'll be on your way to sharing hours of fun that create lasting family memories.
3. Allow Kids to Be Bored
Don’t over-schedule your kids. Being bored actually allows kids to explore the world on their own terms. Boredom sparks curiosity about how the world works. It can awaken passions and interests, which can increase creativity. Let your kids find out what excites them on their own, during that free time that allows their minds to wander. Then just wait and see what they come up with!
4. Explore the World Online
When possible, taking your kids out to see and discover different things in their world can foster creativity. For example, visiting an art museum allows you to introduce them to various styles of art, while visiting a science museum can introduce basic STEM skills. On a practical note, when grocery shopping, you can even take a detailed look, feel and smell tour of the produce department, allowing kids to better understand what they put into their bodies. When going out is not possible, you can explore the world online. Many museums and attractions have virtual tours of their spaces, and travel websites are wonderful destinations to check out countries and sites to see across the globe.
5. Talk About Creativity
Be a sounding board for your children’s creative thinking. Bring up their ideas when they least expect it and show genuine interest in what they have to say. Answer their questions as best you can, and if you don't know the answer, be honest. This gives you an opportunity to try to find the answer together. Give your children a notebook or journal so they can jot down their ideas when inspiration hits them. Ask your kids how they would solve a problem or do something differently to get those creative and problem-solving juices flowing.
6. Let Them Be in Charge
While playing and interacting with your kids is important, be sure to also let them take the lead sometimes. Let your kids show you how to decorate the cardboard box that is becoming a castle or how many beads to string on the necklace. If you see them doing something that could be done so much easier another way, resist the urge to step in. Seriously! Kids grow and develop by playing and learning from their mistakes.
7. Encourage Messy
Let your child play in the rain, jump in a puddle and squish that mud. Things may get messy, but your kids are learning because of it! Lower your cleanliness standards a bit when it comes to your child being creative. If you know things are going to get messy, let kids create somewhere they can make a mess, like the garage, driveway, bathtub or in the yard. Consider buying a sandbox (do not add sand!) or an outside activity table for the messy side of creativity.
8. Be an Observer
Keep an eye and ear open to learn about your child’s interests and passions. Notice your son is fascinated with planes? Add a model airplane kit and books to your child’s creative space. Does your daughter enjoy doodling or sketching? Buy a sketchbook and colored pencils and take a trip somewhere fun (even if it's just the backyard) for her to practice and get creative with that interest. Whatever your children enjoy, make relevant materials and activities available for them.
9. Be a Role Model
Your kids are always watching you. If they see you being creative, using your imagination and exploring your interests, they will most likely follow suit. If your child is painting his latest masterpiece, ask if you can paint alongside him. Schedule a creativity night for the whole family. What a great way to bond! Let each member of the family be in charge of the activity on different nights – this is another way to find out what your kids are interested in.
10. Have Fun
Remember that there are no rules when it comes to creativity. The objective is to set kids' imaginations free with a "sky is the limit" mentality. This may lead to experimentation, successes and even failures. No big deal; remember that failing is one of the best ways to learn. But most of all, encourage fun in the process. Laugh a little (or a lot). These are the times to savor and remember!
Activities to Encourage Creativity
Here are some fun activities to help kids of all ages get creative and use their imaginations:
- Find a basic cookie dough recipe, then let your children be creative with adding extra ingredients to make a cookie all their own.
- Buy your children a cheap digital camera (or lend them your smartphone) and send them on a photography shoot.
- Have your children come up with creative food ideas. An octopus hotdog? How could they turn a meatball into a bird?
- Ask your children to create a superhero. Have them decide the superpowers and create their hero’s costume. Older kids could even write a story about their superhero.
- Skip the coloring books and try plain old paper and crayons. What will they come up with if there's no coloring inside the lines?
- Give your child a problem to solve. “There are too many clothes in the laundry room. How can I fix this problem?” “I always forget to take my vitamins in the morning. How can I fix that?” You may be amazed with the ideas they come up with!
- Go on a drive and let your child pick the route. Turn left. Turn right. Go straight. Maybe a u-turn? It’ll be fun to "get lost," see new things and discover them together.
- Ask your children to make up new rules to their favorite board game.
- Go on a nature walk, or just to your garden, and have your children collect things along the way. Let them use their treasures to create a unique piece of art.
- Encourage creativity by using loose parts and nontraditional items. Nuts and bolts? Birdseed? Wine corks? Rocks from the garden?
- Use a flashlight and create shadows on the walls. Have your child tell you what they see.
- Fill a box with old clothes, jewelry, purses, hats, etc., for dress-up play. Ask kids to put on a fashion show.
- Give your child words to use to prompt a unique drawing. For example, imagine with “wings,” “purple,” “carrot” and “cactus” could inspire!
- Save a large cardboard box and have your child turn it into something. A castle? Car? Post office? Vet clinic?
- Let your children use your smartphone to create a short video. You can encourage them to make props and write a script, or maybe improv is more their thing.
- Ask your children to interview the family. Have them come up with the questions and then conduct the interview however they like.
- Let your children design, draw and color a crest for your family. Show them some family crests online for inspiration.
- Pick a day and allow your child to plan it. Yes, the entire day!
- Switch out your children's art supplies. They love to paint with watercolors, but today give them modeling clay and see what they do with it.
- Ditch the book and have your children tell you their own bedtime story.
- Play the back and forth drawing game. One person starts the drawing, and then everyone else adds to the drawing. To make it challenging, give a one or two-minute time limit.
- Diagnose one of your children's stuffed animals with an illness and have them come up with a plan of action to make it better.
- Make homemade play dough, slime, bubbles and sidewalk chalk together.
- Paint rocks! Some cities even have rock painting groups.
- Challenge your older child to research the family tree. Get younger kids involved by making a thumbprint tree and writing family member's names on it.
How do you encourage creativity in your kids?
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