I’ve heard these words so many times before: “Children learn to be creative through free play”. To a point, I agree: free play is indeed a very important part of every child’s development. Children learn to be independent, use their imagination and explore life and the world that surrounds them. Left entirely on their own, however children may quickly start feeling that their once fantasy-full free play has become just another routine. In our world full of video games and TV, children are often tempted to drop the boring play and turn to the screen.
Children need stimulation to keep up with their creative learning. Adults can help to boost children’s creativity in a variety of ways, but one of my personal favorites is through involving the children in my own creative work. I believe that most children would be very proud to be a part of mom’s or dad’s important job. You can start by telling your child about a project or task you are working on right now or plan to start working on in the near future. Explain why this work is important; tell them about a problem you are trying to solve or a goal you are trying to achieve and ask them if they have any ideas. Many parents will be amazed by the level of children’s engagement and by the variety of ideas they can come up with to help you achieve your goal. Of course, most of the ideas may be more fun than useful. It is very important not to criticize any of them: criticism in this case may be very harmful to the child’s desire to be creative and think outside of the box.
You need to show your child that they are important and that their opinion matters. This will help develop their self esteem and confidence, stimulate their interest in exploring the many life choices they have, and, probably best of all, support development of strong, positive relationships and trust between you and your child.
Jobs that are highly creative in their nature – for example craft, music, painting or writing – are often appealing to children and have a great potential for a creative collaboration between children and adults. After all, how many kids will refuse to help their mom or dad to design a new cartoon character or come up with some crazy ideas for a new children’s book? But I strongly believe that with a little effort, an insurance clerk or an accounting assistant could find a great way to involve children in their work-related projects, too. Creativity is all about finding new, non-conventional ways of solving problems and can be applied in any area of life and in any job.
An important thing to remember, though, is that not all kids get excited about their parents’ work and want to follow their footsteps. Don’t force your child to get involved if they are not interested. Nothing is worse than constantly being forced to do something that bores you. This will in no way stimulate creative thinking; even worse, it might very well discourage it.
Everyone has the potential to be creative, but sometimes this potential is hard to discover. Give it a chance by involving children in your creative work, have some fun and see what doors open for you and your child!
About the author
Anna Valbro is a co-owner of 7 Magic Islands – the website where children can learn and play.
Together with her sister Lena Hinnelund, Anna has helped children immerse themselves in the wonderful, imaginative world of fairy tales and reading. The website, www.7magicislands.com, features talking books, games, coloring pages, printables, free e-books and is always growing and updating. The site also includes a blog for parents, full of helpful tips such as arts and crafts, ways to encourage creativity in children and making the most of quality, family time.
In addition, Anna and Lena write children’s books. Their World’s Best Pirate story is the first in a series of fun short stories for young kids, and is available on the App Store as a free, interactive app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
Anna would love to hear from you! Your comments are also welcome on my Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/girltalkwithgilda or send them to me on twitter at https://twitter.com/gildaevans, @gildaevans.
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