Creativity is not just about becoming an artist or producing new ideas. As schools across the country work to include more STEM and STEAM education into the classroom setting, we as parents are doing more at home to foster these skills. According to Bobbi Wegner, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist in Boston, “A child who is used to thinking creatively, can more easily problem-solve than a child who follows a rigid protocol when searching for a solution to a problem. Creative thinking serves them far beyond their childhood years.” Creative people are adaptable and better problem solvers, which transforms them into becoming more capable of accommodating technological advances and dealing with change—as well as taking into account new opportunities.
8 Ideas for Encouraging Creative Play In Children:
- Offer Children Resources to Show Creative Expression: Give children a particular place where they can get creative, like a room or space in a family room for dress-up, a spot in the garage for painting, or a corner in the family room for Legos. As parents, we can ensure that next time, while brainstorming for a gift suggestion for the kids, you can opt for art supplies, costume components and building materials.
- Let your Children get Messy: Enhance creativity by sending the children out to play in the rain (dressed appropriately) and encouraging them to play in mud or stomp in puddles. In short, let them play the way they want, more free play leads to more discovery.
- Let Your Child Be the Guide: Let your children be free and express themselves in order to look at new ideas and creative thought patterns. Join in on the creative play ideas but don’t lead.
- Encourage Children to Read: Coax children to pick up a book or read to a child for enjoyment and participate in the arts. TV and other screen time should be limited in order to make a place for creative activities like learning to draw, dress-up, reading, painting and coloring.
- Enhance a Child’s Imagination: Cultivate your child’s mind and imagination by asking them to imagine what they would do with a superpower. How would they utilize their superpower? Any questions that start a story that a child can finish with a story they create.
- Curiosity and Learning: The next time you visit a museum or zoo, make it a point to review the place beforehand with your child and develop curiosity in them. This way, the child will look forward to the trip with questions and an itinerary ready in his/her mind.
- Going on Walks: Parents can go on walks or hikes and coax their child to collect anything unusual they find. They can collect rocks, twigs, flowers, and other items in nature and encourage them to make a story about where it came from.
- Encourage Unstructured Play: Unstructured play is becoming a lost art. Including time in a child’s day for free play is critical for creative thinking. Most parents today can recall what it was like to be bored, you found something to do. You collected rocks, tried to build a fort, mixed leaves and dirt in a bucket, got out the chalk. It didn’t matter what you did and it still doesn’t. All that matters is you had the time to be creative.
Make the time for unstructured play, take part in a fun outside day with a child and watch the creative ideas and thoughts unfold.