You only need to spend five minutes with a preschooler to see their amazing curiosity and wonder. From observing the direction of spilled milk, watching bubbles form in the bath, to seeing how many Legos it takes to fill the dogs water bowl, children become their own creative curious self. Research tells us that preschool age children ask over 100 questions in a single day. This gives us a signal that a child’s motivation to learn is powerful. Unfortunately, it is us adults that squash this creative process of learning with facts, details, and conformity. We don’t do it on purpose, it’s just life’s pressures and our environment that begins to close in on a child’s innate desire to be curious about their world. Once this happens, a child stops asking questions and they lose their desire to investigate and be creative. As technology advances and creative arts is taken out of our schools, we as parents can rebirth a child’s natural desire to be creative.
“It’s a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” Albert Einstein
Children who are encouraged to be creative throughout their lives become our inventors, playwrights, designers, musicians, authors, chefs, decorators, dancers, builders, painters, and so much more that make the world a better place.
“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I many learn how to do it.”
- Allow for change. Things don’t always go the way we want and it’s o.k. for your child to learn why. When there is spilled milk, instead of complaining about it, talk about how it happened, why is the milk going in a certain direction, and where does the milk come from?
- Celebrate new ideas. Although it would be faster to do things the same way every time. Yet, when a child suggests a new way to clean up their toys or what clothes to wear, take the time to reward their creativity. As an educator, I love when a child comes to school with an outfit on that does not match, but they look adorable. “Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties” Erich Fromm
- Appreciate their differences. Children who learn to conform struggle with finding their own uniqueness and self-identity. This conformity discourage creativity.
- Make room for unfinished projects. Have a place where a child can keep a project until they are finished. We are so quick to rush through things, a child loses their ability to stick with something until they are satisfied with the finished project.
- Promote pretend play. Play is central to development in a creative child. A child who uses their imagination makes new connections to understanding their world.
- Be alert and aware of child’s interests. My son has a friend whose parents wanted him to follow in their medical career footsteps. Yet, from an early age he has been designing buildings. Although it grieved his parents, he is now in college for graphic engineering. He resents his parents for not encouraging his natural gift and love of design.
- Provide materials for creativity. Create or buy “process learning” things that require imagination like playdough (look at our homemade playdough recipe), sand, legos, blocks, art supplies, writing materials, instruments, fabric, or natural elements.
- Discover nature. Instead of going to a man-made park, take a walk along the beach, hiking trail, living desert etc. Look at all the nature provides with growth, sounds, smells, animals, insects, and natural resources.
- Share in your own creativity. Let your children see what you love. Whether it is painting, cooking, designing, writing, working on cars, sports, or decorating your home, allow your children to understand why you love what you do.
- Create creative space in your home. Provide designated space or place in your home your child knows they can be creative. Whether it is a small table, a crafts cabinet, a creativity box, or a play room, let your child know this space if for them to be their best creative self.
- Ask creative questions. Ask curious questions like, “Why is the giraffe so tall?”, “Where does the sun go after sunset?”, “Why do dogs wag their tails?, “What if hamburgers tasted like donuts?” These questions cause for pondering to their answers and create new dialogue. The best part is there are no real answers which makes it more fun.
- Allow for a child to plan activities. Let your child choose activities of their choice. Child-initiated activities bring about their best creativity. It will fun to see what they come up with.
- Give them a challenge. It does not have to be a competition, but a challenge to do something they have never tried before. It might be to decorate a cake, build a castle with blocks, create a tower with marshmallows and toothpicks, or paint a landscape. The most important part is seeing your child strive for something new and exciting.
- Involve their friends. Invite friends to participate in the creative process. This teaches collaboration.
- Brainstorm with your child. Ask your child to help you with an idea. For example, ask your child to come up with a surprise dinner for your spouse or friend. You might be amazed with the creative ideas they come up with.
- Create guessing games. I loved doing this with my children when we were on long travel trips. We would play, “Who am I” where they had 20 question attempts to find out who I was. We also played “Where am I” with 20 questions.
- Make hand motions to songs. Take your favorite songs and make up a dance or hand motions to the songs.
- Be inventors. Ask your child how to create something that would make life simpler. For example, invent a faster way to clean the house or save water or energy. See what your child would love to invent.
- Create hands-on creativity. Without a worry about germs, let your children play in the mud, sand, leaves, and water. There is great wonderment when a child uses their hands to create.
- Let them feel the experience. When a child creates, there is joy of knowing they have developed something unique and special, made by them. There can be many emotions that need to be honored and appreciated.
“Tell me and I forget, Show me and I remember.” Chinese Proverb
- Creative people are the inventors of history and our future.
- They learn to feel good about themselves.
- They learn to problem solve.
- They ask questions which promotes out-of-the-box thinking
- They develop individuality
- They find their purpose
- They learn to take risks
- They love learning new skills
- They feel comfortable sharing their feelings
- They continue to teach us the wonder of the world.
Mayesky, M. (2015). Creative Activities and Curriculum for Young Children. (11th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning
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