When parents think about the ‘essential skills’ a child needs to succeed on their academic pathway, speaking, reading, writing and counting generally come to mind. But what about creativity?
Many parents believe that creativity is merely an intrinsic ability that you’re either born with or you’re not. They believe that creativity is about art or musical talent, forgetting that it’s actually a way to think and express one’s self.
Every child is born creative and imaginative. For some though, creativity is nurtured and fuelled through materials and opportunities that give creative experiences. The more varied and multifaceted these experiences, the wider the range of creative expression a child has.
We recently shared what Australian parents are doing now to foster creativity in their kids, but now we want to give some more ideas on what you could be doing as a parent!
Benefits of creativity
The benefits of creativity can be life changing. Being creative provides opportunities for trying out new ideas and new ways of thinking and problem-solving. Creativity acknowledges and celebrates uniqueness and diversity and motivates imagination and inventiveness.
A sense of freedom: There are no rules when it comes to creativity or if there are, creativity allows you to break them. The freeing feeling that comes from creating something out of nothing is one of the greatest joys of creativity.
Self-expression: Closely tied with the notion of freedom is the ability to express oneself. Creativity provides an outlet for exploration, and a child that’s creative has a better sense of who they are as a person.
Confidence: The combination of brainstorming, the technical process, and a finished process is often the perfect recipe for personal satisfaction, which in turn leads to greater confidence.
Happiness: Creativity is really another form of play, which is important for bringing joy and happiness into life. Getting creative can be a great stress-reliever no matter your age, enhancing your wellbeing.
Lifelong learning skills: Creativity teaches you that there’s always room for improvement. The prerequisite for innovation, creativity uses imagination to challenge the norm and come up with something new.
Fostering a creative environment in your home is one way to ensure your child grows up with the skills and mindsets that will carry into a rich and fulfilling future. Fostering creativity can also make your home environment a whole lot more fun.
To foster creativity in your home ensure you can have:
Blocks, building sets, doll houses, matchbox cars, playdough, tea sets, toy animals and LEGO are open-ended toys that can be used in a variety of different ways. Choose high quality toys and they can also be used for years and passed on through the generations.
A craft box
Take one of our Benji Toy Boxes and fill it with old boxes, empty toilet rolls, scrap paper, sticky tape, markers, child scissors and any other treasures you might find in your recycling bin. You don’t have to have a big budget for a craft box - kids will get creative with anything they can get their hands on.
Pretend play items
Be it a toy food and beverage set, a storage box full of fancy dress clothes or a picture-perfect pretend play gourmet kitchen, pretend play items are hugely important for your child’s creative development. When your child engages in pretend play they actively experiment with the social and emotional roles of life, teaching the moral development skill of empathy. Pretend play also helps your child understand the power of language.
Something to call their own
Having their own little zone offers connection to space and a place where they can let their imagination and creativity run free. A teepee or cubby house creates an instant dramatic play zone that can be easily modified to suit their mood. One minute they are in a cubby house, the next they’re in a coffee shop or running a shoe store.
Young children love music play and our beautiful handcrafted range of musical instruments are the perfect way for kids to get creative with sound. Music, dance and movement help develop the brain and body in a multitude of ways.
Rules for fostering creativity
There are certain rules that come into play when fostering creativity.
1. Give your child free time and space
Building skills in a methodical way is valuable but there are a number of skills that can be better developed when children are left alone to freely explore their imagination. Creativity needs room to breathe, so be sure to give your child plenty of free time and space to play as they wish.
2. Let them take the lead
Whether you’re chasing dragons or flying to the moon in a cardboard box, resist the temptation to interject or guide the play. Be a pawn in your child’s creative world and let them take the lead. This type of interaction sends the message that you support and prioritise their creative space.
3. Ask questions about their creations
Kids have their own thought processes and you won’t always be able to tell what they were thinking simply by looking at something they’ve made. Ask questions about their creations and have them articulate their process and the ideas behind what they were doing. This will also show greater interest than if you just say, “wow, that’s cool”.
4. Set a good example
Kids learn more from what you do than what you say, so show them that you enjoy exploring your creativity. Let them see you try something new and see if it works. If you make a mistake, show them how you learn from that mistake. Let them see what it’s like when their parent lets their imagination roam freely.
5. Accept mess
Creativity can be messy. Accept this and both you and your child will have a lot more fun. Messy play gives children the opportunity to experience a wide range of sensory experiences and it can be a soothing activity that helps release tension and frustration. Join in and model that it’s okay to get your hands dirty.
Ready to establish a creative environment in your home? Shop the huge range of beautifully designed and functional teepees, cubby houses, pretend play toys, open-ended toys and crafts at HipKids and support your child’s creative future.