My older son is 5 and a half, so I’m not going to tell you how I raised creative children, because I don’t know if my children are going to be creative 5 years down. What, I do know is that right now they are curious, inquisitive and use the word explore a thousand times a day, and I’d like to keep it that way as long as I can.
In my post on ‘Why I choose to raise creative children‘, I spoke about the why’s of creativity how I think it’ll impact children and the difference it will make in their lives, and ours. Over the last year or so I’ve experimented with many creative styles to provide a fun experience for the kids in our daily life, things that’ll help them think and question while also creating / making.
How did this help us? It made learning, writing and thinking fun, this meant we weren’t fighting for writing homework etc instead we had fun doing it. It improved confidence, my little one started playing with pencils much earlier and had developed a much better pincer grip by the time he turned two. The kids have much improved focus and attention spans.
They are asking more questions, exploring more and spending a lot of time outdoors, they are also wanting to make something with everything. We keep upcycling our cardboards, making things with our nature finds and we have an art-wall that gets updated every other day. So here, I am rounding up 8 of our top cool things to keep the creativity flowing, encourage original thinking, and have fun doing it.
Art – is a funny thing, you can pretty much use colours anyhow, anywhere and you will be making art. There are loads of simple art ideas for kids on the internet but the trick is in finding what works for your kids. We have done a lot of high energy splatter and boxing art because my kids need a more active art style. Doing art is not only creating, it’s also observing which is a great tool for creative thinking.
Music – Playing and listening to music we all know helps / fosters creativity but have you tried making up your own songs? From when he could speak, my elder child and I would use the tune of rhymes to have fun conversations. He would say ‘Mama, mama I want food.’ To the tune of twinkle twinkle little star and I would respond in tune, what started as a fun thing soon grew to make whole conversations. He can in minutes rework the lyrics of songs to communicate something else and I think that’s a really cool creative technique lyrically.
Open ended play / toys – This has been one of the new and more conscious shifts we have taken in the last year. We have moved to more open ended toys and spending more time outdoors. When kids don’t have toys on a platter, they can build anything with literally anything. Open ended toys challenge their skills, they let them imagine and play with whatever fancies them at the moment. My son has built drones with blocks and the little makes every shape possible with blocks or paint brushes.
Outdoors / nature play – We have started spending a lot of time outdoors and my kids can see life in realtime. How the mynahs scour for food, how eagles build their nest, how seasons cause the trees to change, how roots spread, the wonder and amazement that nature offers pushes kids to explore and discover answers for themselves. ‘How do you save a caterpillar on a busy road?’ is an engineering dilemma that my child learnt to solve without my help.
Reading – We all know the benefits of reading and how it helps open the mind to the world and its possibilities. Reading allows children to explore ideas they may not otherwise encounter expanding their interests challenging their otherwise normal ideas.
Unstructured play / Boredom – We often think filling our kids schedules with activities is a great idea, but what really gets them going is boredom. I have often watched my kids come and try to lure me into games, this moves into the I’m bored phase where they sit moping for a bit, if I continue to ignore them I can be assured to find them picking up toys in a matter of minutes or reading. The couple of hours they spend playing outside with other kids is their most active and creative time police chases that include battles hips and MiGs, climbing trees to make lookouts, they have them all.
Family Time – Do you spend time around the table or just sitting in the living room speaking about your day? We end up playing simple family games like ‘I spy’ or ‘Simon says’ and this moves into fun conversations which bring out tons of ideas. As children grow older you can start simple conversations like ‘ hey you know what the best thing today was….’ and do a round robin with your kids. These open ended conversations help your kids think, gather ideas about work, interactions, relationships, money etc.
Giving what you make – this has been one of the best things we started at home. Every time we were invited to a party (now that I have two kids, its pretty much every couple of days) we make sure we take something we’ve made. It may be a card, pop up books, or it could even be a simple gift wrap that we painted. This encourages our kids to make small things that we can give others and we get all creative about the item every time.
Ultimately we all hope our children are well adjusted and happy as they grow, creativity I’ve noticed is one of the qualities that makes for happy children. There are tons if other ways to engage your child’s creativity and I’m sure many of us are doing these at home. I’d love to hear how you foster creativity, do comment if you have cool ideas that your children enjoy doing.