Kids have powerful imaginations and are often extremely creative, yet the modern education system does little to foster this creativity. Instead, the emphasis is placed on STEM subjects and sports, with art and music pushed down the curriculum and even, in some instances, struck off completely.
Creativity is more than a bit of fun. Allowing a child to be creative helps them to develop social skills and self-confidence. Kids that are encouraged to give free rein to their creativity are happier and well-rounded individuals. The good news is that you don’t need to let them loose with a black permanent marker and your new white leather sofa. There are other ways to feed their imagination.
Provide a Space for Creative Activities
Most children will shy away from creative pursuits if they fear a telling-off for making a mess. Understandably, you won’t want a five-year-old painting in the living room, but you can make a space for them to be creative.
Buy your child a craft easel or let them use an old table for painting and drawing. Make a space in their bedroom or the garage. If it’s a nice day outdoors, let them set up a craft zone in the garden where the mess won’t matter.
Let Them Be
Creativity isn’t like Mandarin lessons or baby yoga. You don’t need to schedule an hour of art twice a week. Children are much happier being left alone to do whatever they want. Provide some art materials, clear a space, and let your child do what they want in their own time. You don’t need to stand looking over their shoulder, although it is wise to check up on them occasionally.
If the urge to be a helicopter parent is too strong, devise a few creative sessions the two of you can do together. Let your child decorate animal masks or create a collage out of colored paper, paint, and fabric, while you make a collage using photos from your last trip abroad. You are both being creative but in a different way.
Encourage your children to use their imaginations to solve problems and look for innovative solutions. Mind mapping is a fun way to brainstorm ideas. Kids are taught how to mind map at school, but there is no reason why they can’t use the same technique at home.
Take your kids to see art exhibitions. Municipal art galleries are often free, although you may need to pay a fee to see a special exhibition. Introduce your kids to classical music and the theatre, or read poetry to them at bedtime. Embrace new ideas in all spheres, including technology, and talk about their ideas over the dinner table. If you open their mind to new things and stimulate their intellect, their creativity will thrive.
Let your kids know it is OK to not like a painting or disagree with something you say. If they don’t agree, ask them why and encourage them to verbalize their opinions.
Creative kids grow up into emotionally intelligent adults, which in a competitive world, is a good thing.