HOW TO INSPIRE A THOUGHTFUL SPARK IN YOUR LITTLE ONES
The Play’s the Thing!
Instilling creativity in your children can be as easy as child’s play! Provide things that encourage creative actions, such as costume boxes, puppets, an art corner, building blocks, and musical instruments. Resist the urge to micromanage creativity. Play with your child, but also allow for times of independence.
Think Like an Inventor
Rather than buying a bunch of sleek toys or heavily marketed activity boxes, you can use a little creativity of your own to construct an invention box. An invention box may look like a bunch of stuff from your recycling bin, but to the imaginative child, it contains endless possibilities! You can include items like empty containers, yarn, clothes pins, bubble wrap, tape and glue sticks, and scissors, and continue to add items and update the box over time. Give your child a problem to solve, like “invent something to squeeze the last bit of toothpaste from a tube,” then sit back and watch the brilliant results!
Offer your child some drawing prompts. A drawing prompt is simply a sheet of paper with one or two squiggles or shapes on it. Ask your child to turn those squiggles and shapes into a picture.
Allow your child to be bored. Parents sometimes feel guilty if they don’t schedule some “enrichment” activity for every waking moment of a child’s life. But children sometimes need the opportunity to become bored enough to let their minds wander and find their own creativity.
Ask a Silly Question
Ask questions that encourage creative thinking. This is a great activity for car rides, dinner tables, or while waiting in line at the supermarket.
- What would you name a pet dinosaur?
- Would you rather be able to fly or be invisible?
- What would you do if you were the
Get a Silly Answer!
Even before a tyke can recognize letters and sounds, you can give the child tasks, such as:
- Name something that is red.
- What is something that feels soft?
- What makes something crunchy?
Encourage your child to think of as many answers as possible.
We Asked Experts
Local children’s librarians suggested that parents allow children to find creative substitutes. If your child is pretending to cook in a play kitchen, don’t rush out to buy realistic looking bread just because pretend bread is on the menu. A long-time, local private school administrator had this advice: Ask your child to come up with an answer he or she believes no one else will think of. A group of current and retired elementary teachers from across the U.S. pondered how to encourage creativity. Their number one piece of advice? Expose children to as many different places, experiences, people, and activities as possible.