Along with encouraging your children to be proficient in writing and math, teaching them to be creative can be just as valuable. Fostering a strong sense of imagination will enable your kids to adapt quickly to changes around them and turn them into better problem solvers as they mature. Although it may not seem as important as school-based learning, finding ways to inspire your child’s creativity can go a long way toward helping them become more independent, critical thinkers.
Encourage Creative Play
Instead of spending your family time playing coordinated board or video games, encourage your children to use their imaginations by engaging in less-structured make believe activities. Try to purchase imaginative toys such as wood blocks, kitchen play sets or costumes, for instance. These items will enable the kids to develop their own story lines, characters, structures and worlds. Instead of questioning or discouraging their suggestions as they play, ask questions about what they’ve devised to further boost their imaginings. Offer praise for their unique ideas so they’ll feel inspired to continue to dream big.
Explore the Unknown
Rather than heading to the same amusement parks or shopping malls when you have an afternoon off, consider finding new locations where the children can stretch their creative muscles. Consider a museum excursion where they can discover and interpret some modern art – ask them what they see in each picture and why they prefer certain works over others. When you return home, give them the supplies to create a masterpiece inspired by their favorite. You can also head to an aquarium to discuss the secret lives of the fish, the beach to build a unique fortress for sand crabs or a park to search for hidden treasures like colorful leaves or pinecones, for instance.
Give Them a Start
Expand your children’s imaginations and verbal skills by encouraging them to tell stories. If you’re cooking dinner, driving in the car or waiting for a doctor’s appointment, for instance, give them story starters to spark their creativity. Ask them to finish the tale or take turns supplying a sentence or two. Talk a lot during the process, allowing them to express their viewpoints and invent a variety of characters and situations. If they ever seem stuck, ask questions or give them a nudge toward what might happen next to keep the story going.
Use Your Sense of Humor
Devise moments where your children can find humor and display creativity in everyday situations. Draw pictures with odd elements such as a cat that’s barking, a train with triangular-shaped wheels or the sun hanging in the sky at night and ask the kids to explain what’s happening. Dress them in animal socks and encourage them to act out a scene with the creatures. Tell them the first part of a simple riddle or a knock knock joke and ask them to figure out the punchline or create one of their own. Teaching kids to have a sharp sense of humor will not only bolster their creativity, but also boost their confidence in social situations.
Give Them Time
Allow your children time to daydream and bolster their creativity by giving them downtime throughout the day. Instead of filling gaps in their schedules with structured, adult-run activities like sports, music lessons or clubs, leave one or two hours here and there that will encourage them to decide what to do on their own. Let them read a book, clean their rooms, play with toys, watch a television show or simply daydream, for example. Giving your kids the freedom to determine their own goals and trust their decisions can lead to more creative choices and greater independence in the future.
Although it’s important that your children know the difference between real and pretend, bolstering their sense of imagination is vital. Thinking creatively is a building block that will allow them to develop confidence, grow and devise solutions for problems long after their days in the classroom are over.