Some children seem to have a natural creative side that is evident from early on. Whether it’s dancing or painting or building with blocks, it’s nice to see children of all abilities engage in activities that don’t involve electronics. I have parented children who loved to tap into their creative side and children who needed help fostering creativity. The goal for us wasn’t create a talent in art or music, rather learning important skills such as critical thinking skills, expressing emotions and problem solving. And best of all, even the most hesitant child ends up having fun. Especially if they are allowed to make a mess. Here are my 5 favorite ways to foster creativity in my children.
Allow them to make a mess
I know, your floor was just swept and mopped. And now there is going to be colored shaving cream everywhere. Or playdough. Or watercolors. But give them a space to explore by making messes. In time, they will find the beauty of creating things within the boundaries of the table, or color inside lines. I’ve had tiny little beads rolling all over the dining room floor and magic sand on the carpet. I would rather clean up a mess than discourage creative discovery, it offers so many benefits for their development.
Turn on music
A while back I realized that while I enjoyed music, I usually listened to it in the car. And when my children were in the car, I automatically chose songs geared towards them. I was not exposing them to a variety of styles and artists. Now, we listen to jazz, r&b, classical and music from different cultures. I also have music on in the living room, which usually leads to dance parties in dress up clothes. I was too quick to assume that my children would only enjoy children’s music and this was a nice change for me too.
The act of creating is more important than the result
I enjoy beautiful paintings and carefully constructed art pieces. Since I am not patient enough to create, I am in awe of people who do. But with our children, it’s important to let them enjoy the process of creating without any expectation of a result. If the creative process ends up in a mess, compliment on how much fun you had together. And when the result is beautiful piece of art, recognize it, but also help your child find the enjoyment in creating it.
Give them variety
Doing the same activity over and over again is going to lose its creative edge. Expose your children to a variety of ways to create and see the world. Even the smallest change from water colors to markers (I know…the mess…you can do this!) can make a difference. And how about variety in the toys they play with? Having dolls of different ethnicity or abilities is wonderful in opening their eyes to the differences in others. Or go on a field trip and observe different types of art or music and re-create it at home.
Creating things is fun. It brings the family together and you will make memories. Years later, we still laugh about the cinnamon Christmas ornaments that were a flop (literally) or the time we researched a hundred ways to clean up blue play dough from the carpet. We also have many beautiful creations from school and home proudly displayed from years past.
What are your favorite creative activities as a family?