In an ideal world, all of our children would be naturally equally talented, creative, and inquisitive.
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In reality, you, as parents, can implore many ways to foster creativity in your kids, along with other traits.
This is becoming increasingly important in a world that is hung up on productivity and deadlines than nurturing and raising creative kids. A world that often doesn’t do well in a restricted and overly structured environment.
Let’s look at some tips on how to raise creative kids and help the child tap into their imagination:
Where does creativity come from?
To better understand creativity, we first need to look at its origins.
Scientists may have established that a large part of creativity is genetic. We empirically also know that some people are simply more creative than others and that some are born with talents others lack. We are referring here to skills in music, sports, writing, art, and so on.
On the other hand, everyone can become more creative, children and adults alike – they may not have a certain talent, but you can certainly help your children become more creative and more curious.
Of course, let’s not forget that your child may not wish to focus on their innate talents. While we may feel it’s a shame to let them go to waste, we should be guided by their interests and aspirations too, and not their natural gifts alone.
It’s about finding the right balance between what they might want to do, and what they are good at, and it is a balance that is hard to strike.
And now for the actual steps, you can take to foster and encourage creative thinking in children, in the most general sense of the term.
1. Limit the number of toys they have
Research has shown that toddlers who had fewer toys to play with played with those toys for longer and generally engaged in more creative activities for kids than toddlers who had much more variety available in the toy department.
I can also back this example up with another, far less scientific one.
In her Autobiography, Agatha Christie details her encounters as an older adult with young children who complain of being bored, even though they have been given plenty of toys.
She compares them to herself, who had fewer toys but could spend hours playing with her hoop on what she called the Tubular Railway (a part of her garden), or making up stories about fictional girls and their antics in an imaginary school.
As I hope we can all agree that the Queen of Crime is, without a doubt, one of the more creative individuals ever to have walked this earth, it seems there is something to be said about providing fewer toys in an aim to enable more creative free play in our children.
2. Help them fall in love with reading
Reading is an incredibly beneficial habit to form, and the sooner you start your kids on books, the better.
The more your child knows about the world and what is possible and about worlds that are not real but equally entertaining, the better building blocks they will have for their creative play and imagination.
You should start reading with your kids as early as possible, even before they are born. As they grow, make sure to still hold on to the routine of reading together. This will build happy memories and form some very positive associations with reading.
How to make kids love reading?
Focus on two kinds of books equally: those that come as recommended reading for your child’s age, and the books that they want to read.
Reading only what you feel you have to can sometimes take the fun out of the activity, so leaving some room for personal preference is key.
You can also introduce some reading comprehension workbooks that will help your child develop their vocabulary and storytelling skills, and help them better understand the material they have been immersed in.
3. Creating time and space for creativity (and getting bored)
A structured schedule leaves little room for creativity, so you should aim to provide some free time for your child, in essence, a time when they can be creative kids.
Leaving an open slot in your child’s day when they can do what they want to do is the way to go. It may be hard to achieve with our modern way of life but aim for an unstructured half an hour or hour, as often as feasible.
This is free playtime when you let your child come up with their way to pass the time.
They might come to you saying they are bored but don’t fret, that is a good thing.
Boredom allows us to daydream, which is itself a gateway to creativity. It also allows time for new ways of looking at things and new ideas to be born, so definitely aim for some boredom.
As for creative space, this can be a desk where you have all sorts of crayons, pencils, papers, blocks, crafts, models, and anything else you can think they can play with and make something with their hands.
You might want to choose a space that can get messy and untidy, even dirty, that you don’t need to clean up after each play session.
Also watch: How to create a kids creative space.
4. Encourage their mistakes
Children who are afraid of failing are often much less creative kids, as creativity is bound to elicit a certain amount of failed attempts.
Instead of criticizing their failures, teach them that failure is normal, expected, and nothing to be afraid of.
The less they are afraid of their mistakes, the more likely they will be to try something new and come up with untested ways of approaching a problem.
Don’t cut out screen time altogether – but try to balance it out with a different kind of activity as much as possible, and consider watching a cartoon a treat, rather than just regularly scheduled programming.
6. Encourage their questions
As children, we tend to question everything. We must have given our own parent’s plenty of headaches and pauses, asking them to explain where do babies come from, and why is the sky blue.
However, these are precisely the kinds of questions that can do a lot to boost creative kids. They speak volumes of their inquisitiveness, their curiosity, and general interest in the world.
When they come to you with a question, they always provide an honest answer. If you don’t have an answer, encourage them to find it on their own (if they are old enough), or make it a point to find the answer together.
This will teach them that questioning the world they live in is always a welcome activity, a skill they can benefit from a lot as adults.
7. Consider your levels of creativity
Finally, your creative kids might also benefit from you, taking into account your creativity and how you express it.
Do you have a particular creative outlet? Do you write, bake, knit miniature animals? Play an instrument, do really good caricatures, tell incredible hand puppet stories? Whatever your talent is, make sure your child sees you using it, and is welcome to join.
Also, make sure you consider how you play with them. Kids are much more naturally creative than adults, as we, unfortunately, get some of our creativity muted to fit into the world of adults better.
Your child will pick up a toy car and pretend it’s driving underwater. Not something that might be your first instinct.
Teach yourself to open up your mind to their creativity and recapture some of that wonder we are all born with.
To sum it up
Ultimately, while a lot of your child’s talents and innate creativity levels will depend on their genetic makeup, if you keep encouraging creative kids, the ideas and solutions they one day come up with might just leave you in awe.
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Julia is a mother of two girls and two dogs, an entrepreneur and an avid reader. While she is still trying to find the perfect balance between work and play, she is always ready to jump in on any activity her children come up with.