Creativity and imagination are where new innovations are born. If we want our children to do BIG things in this world, we need to encourage them now to use their imagination and create. The creativity fostered now will grow to “out of the box” thinking. The world needs new ideas and people who see the nuance of the space around them. Here are five ways to encourage creativity while we have our little ones at home.
The first step in encouraging creativity is to provide opportunity and materials. First, there are the obvious things. Keep the house stocked with crayons, markers, paper, playdough, paint, and all other arts and crafts materials. Other opportunities come from blocks, Legos, little figures, and dolls/stuffed animals. These are the typical creative outlets for the little ones. Now let’s think a little outside the box.
Let your kiddos create in the kitchen. My oldest used to make “soup” while I was cooking dinner. She would stand on a stool at the kitchen sink with a bowl, spoon, and some dollar store spices. She would create soups and talk about the way different things smelled and how they mixed together. Another idea is to let your kiddos use the remnants from your projects to create new things. We hand over scrap wood, flooring, tiles and let them decide what they are going to do with them. It is pretty amazing the things built and the stories behind them when kids have a little room to explore. Not a DIYer, cardboard boxes, duct tape, tin foil are all good materials you have lying around that can be used in projects.
Encourage Imagination, Not Perfection
One of the easiest ways to stunt creativity is to focus on a certain end result. I try very hard not to decide what we are creating. If you tell a child to make a bear for example, she will focus on whether or not the end product looks correct. When encouraging creativity and imagination it is not time to focus on a final product. It is also not the time to focus on perfection. It is a time to explore what we can create. If I want to set a goal, I would rather set a certain number of colors to be used or the medium to be used. The end result needs to be up to their imagination, not mine.
Praise the Effort
Whether it’s soup in the sink, playdough houses, or a dollhouse made from sticks in the backyard praise your kiddos for their creativity. Let them know that you appreciate all the hard work they put into their creation. Ask them questions about how they did it and what it is for. Even if you have NO IDEA what the end product is without an explanation, praise the effort and time they put into the project. Your praise will encourage your kids to try again, to come up with a new idea, or to make a new project. Praise will lead to more creating and creativity is a skill that needs nurturing to grow.
Ignore the Mess
I know this one is HARD! The four year old creates for an hour and then there is a mess to clean up in the aftermath. I completely understand that while they can help, the heavy lifting is done by the adult in the room. For all of you type A personalities like myself, there is the playdough color mixing and the sloppy, messy watercolors to assault your senses. UGH! Why would anyone want to ruin the perfection of their playdough colors? I can continue to list the million ways creativity can cause messes, but that is not my point. My point is sometimes you need to allow some mess to give kids the opportunity to grow. Allow them to stretch those creative muscles and make the mess. It also gives you the opportunity to learn how to clean up together. So just say yes to the mess!
Be an Example
We all know that actions speak louder than words. If we want our kids to be creative and imaginative innovators, we need to lead by example. Please do not tell me you are not creative and there is nothing for you contribute on this front. You do not have to paint like Monet or compose like Mozart to be creative. Creativity can come out in the way you dress, decorate the house, or the meals you cook. If you still think creativity is not your thing, what are you passionate about? Share you passions with your children. Let them see you excited about life. In my opinion passion breeds creativity and imagination. Be an example of how things are exciting and fun in the world. Let your kids take that energy and foster their own passion and creativity.
Now you have a simple five step blueprint to encouraging creativity in your children. By fostering creativity and imagination you are building up their brains for bigger and better things. So next time you are cleaning playdough crumbles off the kitchen floor, instead of the mess think about the creativity you are nourishing. That creativity may lead to the cure for cancer, you never know. Our kids are the future; let’s encourage them to create so they can build a better tomorrow.
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