6 Ways to Develop Creativity in Children
Did you know that creativity is a character trait? That’s right! Creativity is defined as the ability to produce novelty and contrary to popular belief, creativity is not a talent a person is born with! Our brains have some degree of creative potential and, as with any other ability, this requires training and practice.
Creativity builds a “thinking outside of the box” experience for children shaping them to be more open, flexible, sensitive, and adaptable. These skills become useful when approaching a need, problem, or task from a new perspective to find a solution. Some may say that creativity is a great foundation for critical thinking.
Children are a blank canvas, ready to learn about the world around them. As parents or nannies, our job is to shape and encourage creative and critical thinking!
Corporations associate creativity with generating ideas, possibilities, and alternatives that are useful for problem-solving, effective communication, developing new technologies, and making groundbreaking discoveries. In other words, progress and innovation are accomplished by minds with the ability to revolutionize.
As a parent or nanny, you can help develop and grow creativity in your kids. Here are a few tips to consider:
Support Their Ideas
Children are curious to understand their environment. It is this curiosity that inspires them to imagine, create, try new things, and explore. Some easy ways to support their creative minds are:
Ask additional questions, make suggestions to prompt them to think further or analyze a situation. Offer some help to find additional resources on the web, buy books or drive to the local library.
If the kids have specific interests, consider enrolling them in a class, search for tutorials or figure out ways to develop their ideas together.
Encourage trial and error to make them think, recreate, and adjust! Boost their imagination by having them write, trace their plans, draw pictures, or make notes.
Organize a show and tell and provide positive and valuable feedback. Children crave attention and have a sense of pride in their work. It is natural for them to approach their parents or nannies to see their reactions or ask for their thoughts. Look at their work, identify something you like and describe it, make suggestions on how they could improve it, and remember, you are not a critic!
Maintain a Structured but Flexible Routine
Children thrive in structured environments; however, flexibility within structure allows moments for spontaneity. In other words, adjust the routine to make room for unexpected moments.
Try free play or creative time where the children can choose the activities they want to engage in.
Assign an area in the house where children are free to express themselves. Make sure there are supplies and materials to develop their ideas or plans. A dry-erase whiteboard, an easel with rolling paper, a dedicated notebook or journal, or a tinker table are great options!
Encourage thinking outside of the box by including uncommon activities in your day. For example, instead of eating lunch at the table, organize an indoor picnic.
If a child is engaged, let him continue even if it means deviating from the schedule. Creativity often leads to curiosity which leads to exploration and discovery, producing a learning opportunity! If a child is reading a book about spiders and finds an interesting species, he may want to draw a picture of it or try to recreate it using Legos. The scheduled reading activity does not finish with the last page of the book. It ends when the child stops finding the activity interesting.
Make Children Conscious of their Creative Process
When a child is being creative, the gears in their mind start turning at full power. Unconsciously, they are following a process and working for solutions to accomplish their objective. Building a creative process requires us to map our steps and, when approached with a problem, it becomes easier to identify where things went wrong. Encourage children to draw, list, or simply acknowledge the process they follow. For example, if your child is building a tower using blocks and suddenly falls, encourage them to build it again and prompt them to note the number of blocks they used before the tower collapsed. Ask questions to help them find a way to make a stronger structure.
Creativity often comes in waves. A child who gets an idea might like to get to it right away! It may or may not fit in your schedule. The general rule is allowing children the time to develop their ideas. When not possible, offer alternatives such as bringing a journal or notebook and making a draft or sketch to plan for their project for later.
There will be times when the child becomes frustrated or stuck when their process does not offer a solution. Part of the creative process includes stepping out to rest allowing the brain to process the information. In this case, offer a break or distraction to rest the brain, think of better solutions and see the problem from a different perspective.
Train their minds to think outside of the box
Playtime is not the only time to encourage creativity. Daily activities, chores, responsibilities, and even life experiences offer opportunities to innovate.
Let's be honest! Children do not often enjoy chores and would do anything to simplify their completion or make it less tedious. Train their mind to think outside of the box by encouraging them to find new ways to simplify their work. For example, if a child is tasked to take the trash out and hates putting a new bag into the trash can, ask them to think of a way to do it less often. Get them thinking by suggesting adding layers of bags to the trash can so that every time they pull out a full bag there is another already installed.
Encouraging different ways to approach a situation builds problem-solving skills.
Solving a problem does not always include innovating a process. Responsibilities and chores are inevitable and cannot be simplified but could become enjoyable. If the child loves to play with lego bricks but struggles to pick them up, challenge them to see who can pick up more legos.
Let them be bored!
Parents and nannies tend to plan a busy schedule to keep children on the go and prevent boredom at all costs. The availability of technology also offers easy and quick entertainment which can interfere with the ability to create.
Boredom is a feeling we all want to avoid. However, constructive boredom is a great trigger for creativity. It is during boredom that children will explore to run away from lacking situations to find satisfaction. Offering options to find entertainment puts children ahead of the curve to achieving a creative mind.
Keep a list of activities they could do when they feel bored. Reading a book, writing a story, drawing, coloring, building a fort, or pretend play, the sky is the limit.
Involve the child in the activity you are doing. If you are cooking dinner, have them prepare something and encourage them to figure out a new preparation method. For example, if the child is making mashed potatoes, let them discover the best way to mash them, using their hands, a fork, or any other available instrument.
Inspire children to try new things!
New experiences stimulate the brain! Children are exposed to a variety of subjects, abilities, and skills in everyday life. You can foster learning by encouraging children to take over tasks they have never tried before. Learning to do laundry, separate the colored items from whites, and even folding the clothes can create light bulb moments such as finding a more effective way to fold the socks or shirts. Helping with cutting the grass can trigger their interest in gardening and landscaping design, or cooking dinner may result in a delicious recipe.
Encourage children to try a new sport or hobby. Many sports centers offer free trials where children can find out if they like it. Another option is to try a subscription box with activities centered on art, DIY projects, or STEM activities and experiments. Our STEM Nanny Program includes a STEM Kit, which allows you or your nanny to expose children to fun, educational projects and experiments to stimulate their creative minds! Learn more about our program, STEM kits, and sample curricula here.
Society, technology, and culture are in constant evolution. Creativity opens the world to new possibilities making a person capable of transforming thinking and social practices or contributing to technology advancement and innovation. Parents, nannies, and educators must prioritize creativity development in children to raise the novel minds of the future and it is our mission at The STEM Nanny Company to show you how!