Fire up your child’s creativity

It’s important to know what creativity in order to nurture and inspire it. Creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something, or the tendency to generate or recognise ideas.

Toddlers and young children are innately and naturally creative. In fact, they are our greatest teachers! 

By watching your child play with their favourite toy, they are already using their imagination through entertaining themselves in their world of fantasy play.

Einstein said that, “Imagination is far more important than knowledge.’’ The good news is that by inspiring your child’s innate imagination (which anyone and everyone can do) you are inspire and generate creativity.

Inspiring and nurturing your child’s creativity is actually quite simple and can be a lot of fun for both of you. Look for items that are already in your home that could be inspirations for creativity.

For example, kitchen objects (baking cups and spoons), pasta shapes, grains, nature, recycled materials, box of old clothes for playing dress up, etc.

Creativity should include both the importance of planned and structured craft projects, spontaneous art explorations and also some free time where there is no structure or planning where your child can just putter around and explore.

In this article I will first explore some ideas around how to nurture your child’s creativity and give you a few tips for raising creative children. Following this, there will be tons of fun and simple creative activities appropriate for your child’s age.

  • Create an art area in your home where your child can be creative. 
  • Encourage them to try new ways of doing things.
  • Don’t expect their art to turn out the same way as yours/other children’s.
  • Avoid managing or controlling the way your child does something. Showing a child how to use e.g. scissors is very different from controlling the outcome of a perfectly cut out shape.
  • Inspire imagination – ask your child, "I wonder what would happen if…"
  • Imagine different ending. When reading a book to your child ask them what do you think could happen here or what would you like to happen?
  • Validate and enjoy your child’s creativity by displaying their artwork.
  • No judgement on anything that your child creates. There is no good or bad or right or wrong way to do it – only that each child is different and gets to express themselves accordingly.
  • Be aware of rules that you may have about how things should be done. (Eg. mess/no mess – that can be a tricky one for many parents)
  • Give your child choices when possible. For example, what colours of clothes they would like to wear, items or colours for the room they would like to pick, or foods to cook when appropriate, and their choice of birthday party they would like to have. This is very essential for self-validation. 
Note – children who watch TV, play on computer or cell phones (screens) are being entertained by someone else instead of spending their time in imaginative and creative play.

I strongly encourage limiting of screen time to one to two hours per day otherwise the child may find it difficult to engage in creative play and become ratty, irritable and lazy.

Mysmartkid is South Africa's leading programme for Early Childhood Development (ECD). Click here to join the programme.

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