Do you want to encourage creativity in your children? Feeling overwhelmed?
It’s the little things that we do that make the most difference.
When I first started teaching I used to think doing ‘creative activities’ would involve lots of set up and prep from me. However, I quickly realised that the lessons that the children led themselves with their own creative ideas were the most simple to do – as well as the most enjoyable and successful!
I’m not just talking about arts and crafts either. In science, literacy and in most areas – when children were given the time and space to lead their own learning as much as possible and come up with their own creative solutions, they were the most successful!
After having my son, I quickly found that he was happiest and thrived when given the time and space to be creative and explore his own projects and ideas. Since then it’s been something I’ve really tried to be aware of and encourage.
Of course, there is still a place for teacher or parent led learning and activities – especially when learning specific skills or knowledge. But I have realised how much we try to over structure and complicate children’s lives in today’s world. I’m now very passionate about encouraging creativity in children. I like to think of myself as more of a guide than a teacher. I’m there to help, guide and inspire, but true creativity comes from within each child (in all of us in fact!)
So here are 5 simple ways you can encourage your children’s creativity:
1. Time and space.
Give children time and space to play alone, or together (without screens). Leave out simple materials or toys, but leave the rest to them. There may be a few ‘I’m bored’ complaints to begin, but the more time they are given to explore their creativity, the more easily it will come. Try to not interrupt their play, unless they ask you to join in! Here my daughter was playing with her trains and then asked for a bucket of water and a towel to give her trains a bath!
2. Outdoor time.
Children NEED to be outdoors to play and develop their creative thinking. The outdoors takes away walls and boundaries of thought, provides inspiration and simplifies their play. In the garden, the park, in the woods, on the beach. Try to not have too much of a ‘plan’ in mind when you visit, give children plenty of time to wander and play. If you’re interested in Forest Schools you might like to read: 12 Reasons to Love Forest School.
3. Simplify toys.
It’s so easy to accumulate too many toys – we face this issue constantly! But if you can – try to declutter and streamline once in a while. (Ok, so this one does require a bit of effort!) Try to mostly keep toys that have many open ended possibilities – bricks, legos, dolls, kitchen toys, craft materials etc. Donate or sell any toys that are no longer played with.
Top tip – keep any safe recycling materials, like boxes or milk cartons in a ‘junk modelling box’ with some tape, stickers and felt pens. You’ll always have some cheap creative materials handy!
4. Praise creativity.
Try to praise children’s creativity. Be specific and meaningful if you can. For example, when they show you something they have made, “I love the way you have used sticks to make the hedgehog’s spikes”, or “I like how you turned the box into a rocket! Great idea!” If you are not sure what their creation is (!) ask your children to tell you more about it. Children love telling you all about their projects.
5. Get creative too!
Children copy and imitate the behaviour they see around them. You don’t have to sit and craft with your children if you don’t want to. But if you can – try to carve out some creative time for yourself! This is a great example to show them. We all lead busy lives and it can be easy to forget our own well being. Even just a small amount of time to be creative can uplift you. Whether it’s sewing, drawing, building, painting – even finding fun ways to present your child’s food! Find a little time to be creative and you’ll show your child that you value the importance of creativity.
Do you try to encourage creativity in your children? What other tips do you have to add?