When we think of creativity, we often think of a specific process with an end result, like art, writing or playing music. But the truth is, creativity is more multifaceted than we give it credit for.
Creativity also includes self-expression, emotional regulation, problem solving skills, and collaborative thinking. All of these skills can be beneficial to learning: studies show that creativity and creative thinking has benefits for all areas of learning across the curriculum. Furthermore, creative thinking is becoming progressively more sought after in employment, so in fostering these skills early, you can prepare your children for a successful future too!
In this article, we are going to explore 10 different ‘creative’ ways you may not have thought of to support creativity for kids.
Encourage creativity for kids by asking questions
We can encourage creative thinking in our kids by asking questions while they play.In asking questions, or ‘scaffolding’, we encourage children to develop the story they have created and think about their play from different perspectives. For example, when they build a tall tower, we can ask them “Who do you think would live in your tower?”, or “What might happen if we built this tower outside?”.This empowers them to demonstrate creative skills such as collaborative thinking – “Maybe we could live there?” and problem solving – “It would blow over because it’s windy today, so we have to build it inside”. Thinking about their play in more ways like this will encourage them to think of and try out new ideas, therefore enhancing creative thinking skills such as problem solving.
Promote creative independence
When we get started with creativity for kids, it can be tempting to encourage them to create with specific products in mind, like birthday cards or portraits for family and friends.While it can be good to give children some ideas to inspire creativity, influencing children to create something of our choosing too often can actually be damaging to developing creativity in the long run because it takes away key parts of the creative process, like thinking of ideas and experimenting with materials.Instead, try setting up “creative invitations” with various resources, such as paint, pencils, glue, tape or cardboard, set up in an accessible area, and asking them what they think they could make with those materials. (If you’re able to set this up outside, this will help a lot with the mess they will make creating!).
Empowering kids to direct their creative process will encourage various creativity skills. In choosing the resources to use for a project and how to use them, they can learn about problem solving and decision making. Having control over the creative process can also develop intrinsic motivation, as they will plan and carry out a process to create for their own gain and to test out their independent ideas. Having the freedom to create independently will also embed a sense of self-esteem and confidence for your child in their own abilities.
Ask for their opinions and ideas
Being a parent involves a huge amount of decision making to ensure that all of our responsibilities are taken care of and everyone is happy. It can be really helpful to have someone on hand to advise us in these everyday decisions. So, why not ask our kids their opinions?Allowing children to give their ideas and opinions about small, manageable decisions, such as what they would like for dinner, where you could go for your walk today, or where that new piece of furniture could go, can help them to demonstrate a variety of creative skills: self-expression, as they are learning how to talk about their ideas and plans, collaborative thinking, as they are working with you to create a solution to an issue, problem solving skills, as they will need to consider potential issues with their plans.
Model creativity for kids
We are often our creative kids’ biggest, and almost always their most influential, inspiration in life. So, when we want to show them how to take on new things or practice new skills, sometimes the best thing we can do is to show them this ourselves!To develop creativity, this can involve sharing your thoughts, ideas and any creative projects you have done with your children, or creating together. Even if you feel like you’re not “good” at art or a creative person, creating still has benefits for your own wellbeing and will inspire your children to follow suit. But don’t worry if you don’t always have time for specific creative projects – modelling creativity for kids can also involve everyday household routines like telling your kids a bedtime story you think of on the spot on the nights they don’t want to read any of the books on the shelf, or involving them in decorating your home.
Get outside and spark that creativity!
Exploring the outdoor environment can stimulate creative thinking in a multitude of ways. Because of the change of scenery away from everyday distractions, such as toys, technology and everyday tasks, research suggests being outdoors often inspires children to make imaginative role play scenarios and use available resources to create.
If you’re able to get into the outdoors and carry some everyday creative materials, the creative possibilities from outdoor exploration are endless! But they could look like:
- Building dens from available branches, leaves etc
- Making crayon/chalk rubbings of natural patterns, if you bring crayons and paper
- Painting landscapes
- Gathering materials for collage/creative play at home
- Landscape photography
Create accessible creative areas
Having the ability to work freely as inspiration strikes can encourage motivation to continue with creative projects. Therefore, it can be really useful to set up creative areas for our children that they can access independently all the time.A low desk with an easily accessible collection of resources for creating (storage trolleys are a great affordable option to organise this!) such as paper, sketchbooks, pens, chalk, paints and natural resources provides your child with a designated space to practice their creative skills.Younger children will need supervision in this area (to avoid paint related disasters) and it can become messy at times so it’s best in an area of your house that is easy to clean, but the benefits of an independent creative area are vast for children: the ability to try new ideas and experiment freely encourages problem solving skills and imagination, which help to further instil creative thinking skills while supporting creativity for kids and developing a need for independence and agency.
Pretend play to stimulate creativity for kids
Pretend play is a hallmark of childhood. We all remember the elaborate games we used to play in the street with our friends fondly (mine usually involved being a Zookeeper or horse rider!) and our children are no exception: we all love taking on new roles in play. Pretend play is one of the most natural ways to support creative skills in children for this reason.
You can support your children’s creative development through pretend play in various ways. Firstly, by taking part yourself! Your kids will love your getting involved, and having your input in the storyline will encourage them to use creative skills by thinking collaboratively and using problem-solving skills to ensure that both of your plans for the game are considered.
Another way you can support creativity for kids in role play is simply by providing children with invitations to enjoy role play: for example, when you’re putting things away at the end of the day, you could set out your kid’s dolls and doll’s house when you have time and see how your children decide to take the narrative. This will provide children with an opportunity to act out different scenarios, which can help them to process emotions and experiences through creativity for kids.
Talk about feelings
One of the key elements of creative thinking especially when it comes to creativity for kids, is the ability to process emotions and experiences through various means. To encourage this, we need to give our little ones the tools understand what they are feeling, as well as giving them the creative tools to process it. This comes from conversation.
There are various ways to bring conversations about feelings into your daily family routine, but most simply and crucially, we can just check in regularly with our kids and ask them how they are feeling, sharing how we are feeling too. We can also discuss what we would like to do about this feeling: for example “Mommy is feeling happy today. I would like to do some painting with you tonight!”This promotes creativity by encouraging children to think about their feelings and how they may like to use this energy.
Support hobbies and interests
I know as well as anyone how often kids’ interests can change: as soon as I’d finished designing my little one’s unicorn room, she decided that she doesn’t like unicorns that much anymore, and now she’s into space.While I won’t be changing her décor just yet (That makeover wasn’t cheap!), since she told me about this new interest, we have been reading stories, making small world role play tales and watching documentaries about space. This has been beneficial to her creativity because she has been so inspired by her learning.
Supporting your children’s hobbies mean that your can develop the creative skill of self-expression. Furthermore, their hobbies may inspire them to create specific games, play scenarios, or art, which will allow them to practice even more creative skills and practice is very important when it comes to creativity for kids!
Listen to music/read together
Finally, enjoying art and media together as part of your daily life can promote creativity too!
Research suggests that listening to music while doing tasks encourages creative thinking skills. So next time you’re cleaning up from dinner together, or doing some homework, why not try and listen to some uplifting music at the same time?
Reading together also has various benefits for creativity. Something as simple as a bedtime story has the capability to instil inspiration for play or art, which could encourage the development of many creative skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving and collaborative thinking.
What have we learned today?
Creativity encompasses various different skills that can be beneficial for children’s learning, emotional wellbeing and social skills. We have learned about 10 different simple and creative methods to support our children’s developing creativity that you may not have thought of, which were:
- Asking questions: this can support our children to use creative problem solving skills and enhances creativity for kids
- Encouraging creative independence: letting our children test out ideas promotes creative thinking through experimentation
- Asking for opinions and ideas: this will support creativity for kids by encouraging problem solving and collaborative thinking
- Modelling creativity: you are your children’s most influential and favourite role model, and seeing you being creative will encourage them to do the same!
- Getting outdoors: research shows that the beautiful scenery will inspire various creativity and creative thinking skills, including problem solving, self-expression, and experimentation. And the opportunities for activities are endless!
- Having accessible creative areas: it can be great to let your kids have an area for creativity that they can access by themselves, to practice all of the new skills they are learning when inspiration strikes!
- Imaginative play: playing pretend together will support creativity for kids by developing creativity skills such as collaborative thinking, problem solving and self-expression!
- Talking about feelings: making space for feelings will encourage creative skills including self-expression, leading to greater emotional regulation and general well-being
- Supporting hobbies and interests: Encouraging your children’s developing interests will encourage creativity skills for kids including emotional regulation and self-expression, and will likely inspire them to experiment with more creative projects!
- 10. Enjoying art together: Enjoying music, books and other art together can inspire yourchildren to use creative skills and will support their developing self-expression.
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