8 Easy Ways To Inspire Your Kids To Create
We often associate creativity with artists and musicians but creative thinking is the lynchpin of many disciplines, particularly STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects. The ability to think outside the box and solve problems is what drives the innovation of STEM industries. Contrary to popular belief creativity is not something innate that we are either born with or without- it is in fact a skill that can be fostered from childhood. Teaching our kids to create is an important gift they carry throughout their lives as it facilitates learning, emotional intelligence and their experience of the world. Here are eight simple ways to encourage your child to create:
Provide the resources and tools
If you can provide the tools for creative play the your child’s natural curiousity should do the rest! The key resources for nurturing creativity are time and space. Just a small area, such as table or piece of floor space, can become an island of discovery! A basic kit of art supplies, craft materials, and disused household objects (e.g. newspapers, empty boxes, plastic bottles, rubber bands) is ideal of imaginative projects and experiments. Alternatively a monthly subscription service, such as Trunkaroo, is a perfect solution for time-strapped parents. You can receive creative projects and STEM-inspired activities, along with all the materials required, through the post each month!
Let children disagree and question norms
Let’s be clear- we aren’t advocating children giving their parents sass! There are often many routes to solving a problem and creativity must be employed to explore these routes. It’s healthy for our kids to express divergent thought and original ideas when learning, and challenging prescribed instructions demonstrates the development of critical thinking skills. Innovation is born by veering away from the most obvious or commonly accepted paths to a solution. If some of these trial and error explorations result in failure then that is nothing to be afraid of!
Encourage kids to make mistakes
Failure is part of life so it’s essential for emotional development to dispel the fear associated with making an error. If a child is scared to fail then it will confine their creative exploration and make them reluctant to try something new. A good way to normalise the process of trying and failing is to share some of your own mistakes with your kids. If an activity, project or theory doesn’t work out then laugh it off together. The fun and learning is intrinsic in the process not the outcome, and it’s important to encourage little ones to ‘try again’ until they do find a solution.
Celebrate creativity in your home
A free and expressive environment will fertilise the seeds of creative ideas. Adorn your walls with artwork, pictures and projects your family have created. If you have limited space perhaps just pick a particular area and have a ‘creativity wall’. Prompt small explorers to use household objects, such as jars, spoons and empty containers, in new and unusual ways. The home is ideal setting for children to engage in unstructured play that sparks their imagination and creativity. Don't hold back from sharing your favourite artists, musicians, scientists and creators with your young ones- pass on the passion!
Allow autonomy and freedom
We know stepping back and letting the kids run riot is not the most appealing thought! However too many rules and restraints, particularly during activities, can strangle creativity and reduce flexibility. Try to loosen the reins during explorative play and give little makers the opportunity to colour outside the lines. If you keep instructions to a minimum then your child will be encouraged to formulate independent ideas to complete a project.
Let kids get bored!
As weekends and school holidays approach it is often tempting to schedule a non-stop stream of boredom-busting activities to keep the little ones busy. Psychologists suggest that actually a bit if boredom could be the key to developing creative thought. Dr Teresa Belton, of The University of East Anglia, places focus on the connection between boredom and creativity. ‘Internal stimulus’ grows from boredom, which in turn allows creativity to flourish. Child psychologist Lyn Fry advises: “I think children need to learn how to be bored in order to motivate themselves to get things done. Being bored is a way to make children self-reliant.”
Something as simple as casual play can be utilised to promote creativity. Imaginative, dramatic and role-play scenarios give kids the opportunity to step outside themselves and see the world from a fresh perspective. Playing charades, acting out stories aloud, or pretending to be a character can kindle creative thinking. The act of ‘becoming’ or representing another person or animal challenges children to express feelings and consider a unique experience of the world other than their own.
Try creative questioning
An easy way to foster creative thought in kids is to ask open-ended questions. During daily activities we can kick start imaginative enquiry by posing questions such as ‘What do you think it feels like to be a bird?’ or ‘Where do you think the bubbles in the bath come from?’. Creative questioning nudges children to consider different possibilities, exercise critical thinking and look at things from a new point of view. When playing a game or undertaking a project together try asking your child what they think the next step should be, for example: ‘how can we make this tower taller without it falling over?’ or ‘which two colours can we mix together to make purple paint?’.