Creativity seems like it should come automatically to children, and it often does. But nowadays with busy schedules, tons of homework, and all the other demands on the family, sometimes play and just being silly gets lost in the shuffle. So why be concerned about encouraging creativity? As the adage goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Every now and then children need a little encouragement to be goofy, imaginative, and stir their creative juices.
Creativity in children improves problem-solving, social skills, and even helps children work through myriad of emotions in a safe, child-friendly way. The importance of art, music, and creativity in children’s lives and in their development has been examined for decades. Many studies and books have been written about the importance of creativity in a child’s development. Viktor Lowenfeld’s book, Creative and Mental Growth, explored how a child’s development can literally be seen through his or her art. Such research has emphasized that art and play are a vital parts of a child’s development. Being creative and simply having unstructured play time can strengthen the child’s ego, allow for independence, and help the child confront and cope with many things in life.
It is important not just to allow your child the space to be creative and draw or play but to encourage it as well. Your child will be able to work out problems and conflicts, navigate social situations, and better cope with all kinds of challenges when they have a creative outlet. The next time your child is drawing or playing, just quietly watch and see what he or she is doing—and what she’s expressing!
Five Ways to Encourage Creativity in Your Home
1. Sing and dance with your child. Put on some music and just be goofy! Make silly moves—even use a scarf or towel to twirl around with. No one’s watching and your kids will love it!
2. Have art supplies within easy reach for your children. Keep the supplies in kid-friendly containers—crayons in one bin, paper and coloring books in another. It will also make cleanup easier. So when your child gets the urge to draw, he can go for it! (And if you’re concerned about “messy” materials like glue and paint, store them in a different place, away from little hands and save them for a family craft time.)
3. Go for a walk outside. Walk around your neighborhood or park. Bring a small bag or container with you and encourage your child to fill the container with found objects (leaves, sticks, pine cones, etc.). You’ll be surprised how fast it can fill up. Once home, look through the newly found “treasures” and you can even make a collage with them as a special keepsake.
4. Read books together. Or for a new twist, have your child “read” to you. Even if she’s too young to read, she can look at the pictures and make up the story.
5. Make a dramatic play area in a small corner of the family room or your child’s bedroom. Gather some old clothes from your closet—a goofy hat or two, an old bridesmaid dress you’ll never wear again, a tie and button down shirt, some costume jewelry—and put them in a big box. And put up a long mirror so when your child gets dressed up, he or she can look at their cool outfit!
Don’t forget to join in on the fun yourself! Being happy and playful together as a couple and a family models and encourages your child to have fun and be creative.