Creativity is an important skill for young children to develop. It's not just about playing pretend or coloring a pretty picture. As your child gets older, creativity will also help him or her problem solve and perhaps even lead. And who doesn't want that for their child?
Of course, kids don't come with instruction manuals, so when it comes to figuring out how to instill skills like creativity, you're on your own... or at least, you were on your own, until you found this article! Keep reading for tips on how to stimulate the mind and encourage creativity in your child.
Let Them Make a Mess
Providing plenty of materials for arts and crafts projects is an obvious way to nurture your child's creative urges. The key is to let your child envision, plan, and carry out their own projects. This is called open-ended art, meaning that there isn't a prescribed way to do it. Your child is free to make whatever they want, however they want (within reason). Unfortunately, a well-stocked art room and open-ended art projects usually mean messes... big ones. Look on the bright side, though: Once they're done getting in touch with their creative side, this will give them an opportunity to learn the all-important skill of cleaning up
Stories are another excellent way to stimulate the mind and encourage creativity in your child. When you read together, don't hesitate to ask your child open-ended questions, such as, "If you were the main character, what would you have done differently?" Kids also love to be told stories, whether they are folk tales or stories that you make up yourself -- and no, your stories won't seem stupid to your child, especially if you insert them as a character!
When all else fails, simply say, "Now it's your turn!" and let your child tell you
a story for a change.
There's almost no better way to encourage creativity than to play pretend with your child, and kids are naturals at this game. Perhaps a little too natural, as any parent knows once their child learns to tell tall tales and whoppers. Encourage kids to incorporate almost anything into their games: Good, old-fashioned wooden blocks can become everything from car tracks to doll houses, old sheets and discarded fabric can be crafted into costumes, and boxes can be made into houses. Play along, and don't be afraid to do the voices. You may feel self-conscious, but your kid will love it, guaranteed!
At any mention of their child cooking, most sane parents run screaming into the kitchen to batten down the hatches. Well, perhaps not most
... but realistically, letting their kids measure out flour and sugar is usually not high on a parent's list of favorite things to do. Cooking, however, is a natural way for kids to learn many skills, including creativity. Following a recipe teaches them how to follow directions, for example. Creativity also plays a big part in cooking, in choosing a recipe and -- as they get better at cooking -- making alterations.
Kids are naturally creative creatures, and it doesn't take much to stimulate the mind and encourage your child's natural creativity. Mostly what your child needs is a well-stocked toolbox -- everything from art and cooking supplies, to books, to just about anything he or she can pretend is something else -- and a willing participant to play along. If you think about it, having a child is an opportunity to find your creative side, too, so channel your inner child and focus on having fun!