Years ago, back when I was hairdressing I was trimming a little boys hair. To try and get him to sit still I suggested we make up stories together. I started a story about a cupcake on an adventure. When I asked him to tell the next part of the story he said: “I don’t know that one”. I told him that it was a brand new story that we were making up together. He still didn’t get it, so I tried to suggest that he start up a story with the first thing he could think of. He ended up rehashing an episode of The Cat in the Hat. Now, this isn’t a criticism of his parents, it’s not something that people would generally think a child would need to learn, as kids are usually overflowing with creativity.
Of course, there are the more commonly known ways to encourage creativity, arts and crafts (which you can try so many things, more on that later though). But during play is also another great time to exercise their creativity.
Children are little scientists. Their brains are constantly learning about the world around them, and the best way for them to learn is being self-guided. Of course, it’s fine to help out if they ask, but try to take a step back. Is your kid playing with a toy the wrong way? “Innovative! I would never have thought to play of it that way” you should say, rather than telling them the correct way. Encourage out-of-the-box thinking. Children’s brains are rewiring themselves and making connections, and it does so best when they make those mental connections on their own.
Trying to lead, or guide a child’s play too much limits their creativity. If you are always showing them what to do, it holds them back from thinking for themselves. Think of it this way, say you’re having a computer problem, do you understand the problem better by someone coming up and doing it for you, or by figuring it out on your own?
Asking questions encourages your child to think creatively. It makes them stop and consider things a different way, and while you are helping guide this, you aren’t telling them what to do. You are leaving it up to the child.
Asking things like:
What do you think would happen if _________?
Why do you think that ________?
How do you think ________?
Even stepping away from play time, asking questions during everyday happenings brings an exciting new level to things. It brings out their sense of wonder and has them look at things in new ways. “Where do you think the garbage truck goes after it takes the garbage away?”, or “What do you think your [teacher/daycare worker/familiar person] does when they aren’t [where the child normally interacts with them?]”.
Encourage Encourage Encourage!
One of the best ways to foster creativity in your child is to really show them how interested you are in what they are doing. Did they make a picture? Fantastic, it looks phenomenal! Or maybe they are playing with something in a new way “Ohh! I didn’t think of that! Is it fun to play like that?”. These simple encouragements can make your child determined to continue to think creatively. Are all their drawings scribbles? Abstract expressionism and free-form art. They will draw people and things when they want to at their own pace.
This might seem like an odd thing to suggest when you want to foster creativity, after all, creativity is limitless, why would you want to put down limitations? Limitations can force one to think about different ways to do things. Not only that, but it can help make things not so overwhelming. Offering a limited palette of colours for drawing or painting can produce beautiful results. Maybe a child wouldn’t have thought to make the sky purple or the grass orange otherwise.
Thinking creatively can be really beneficial for children, as they can then grow into creative adults. Creative thinkers can become things like inventors, engineers, artists, authors, video game designers, or web designers. They can become innovators in their fields. With limitless creativity, no dreams are unreachable.
Do you have any ways that you feel help creativity flourish? Please share them with us in the comments!!