Creativity counts. How can you “fuel the fire” for your child's creativity?
- Children are natural explorers. Ask questions and encourage discovery. When a child encounters something new, provide time for them to explore. Remember the basic questions of Who? What? Why? When? Where? Support your child's investigations by challenging them to think about what something feels like, what they think it might be used for, how it smells, etc. If a child is non-verbal (i.e. an infant), still ask questions. Even if they can't tell you yet, their minds are growing quickly and obtaining new information.
- Expose children to the arts: dance (movement), theatre (drama/storytelling), music (singing, playing simple percussion instruments, or making your own sounds – clap, snap, tap, etc.) and visual arts (draw, paint, glue, cut, etc.). Sing to your child. Make up songs. Move with a child in your arms. Dance in the kitchen. Provide basic, safe art materials which children can use to create. Look for places in the community that offer arts programs. Note: for concert experiences, remember, it's okay if you cannot stay for an entire concert. Some concerts may be too long for a young child. Stay and enjoy for the time that is appropriate for your child. It is okay to quietly leave during a performance (try to time your departure with a transition – i.e. between songs, sets, etc.).
- There is no “right answer.” If you want to encourage creativity, one of the most important things to remember is to not “squash,” or curtail it. Children are naturally inventive, imaginative, and creative. If a child says something silly, moves differently, or creates something unique, embrace it. The process of exploration should be valued over the product. For example, the experience of using paint is more valuable than the picture that is created. Celebrate your child's success in their creative endeavors, no matter what the outcome.
- Minimize exposure to media, i.e. computer (games) and television. Immerse children in story and song. Expose them to open-ended tools that will keep their creative juices flowing such as books, markers, etc.
- Don't rush. Creativity takes time (and patience on the part of parents). Children need time to play, to think, and to “just be kids.” Provide children with ample time outdoors and with materials (i.e. art materials), so that they have time to discover the possibilities. Too often, as adults, we live our lives by the clock or by our “to do” lists. As adults, this is sometimes what we need to do; however, expecting these behaviors out of children may inhibit their creative growth.
- Get out and explore the resources in the community including story times at the library, community concerts, and the park. Too often we sit at home and try to tackle the household chores. A little experience and exposure in the life of a child produces great outcomes. Expose children to the possibilities in the community around them…they provide great inspiration, both for your child and for you!
- One of the most valuable skills we can teach children is to be effective problem solvers. Problem solving is more than an answer to a question that may be found on a test. Problem solving is about how to navigate through our daily lives and find a way over “the bumps.” Bumps may include everything from what to do when you forget your lunch, to dealing with the serious issues of our lives and times. To be creative is to think “outside the box,” to think of different solutions, and to effectively problem solve. In addition, creative endeavors (i.e. drama, dance, theatre, music-making) simply enhance the quality of our lives.