Kids are naturally creative, and your unique child is going to express their creativity in their own special way. Some kids express themselves through singing; others like to smear paint all over a canvas; and some kids like to make patterns out of items found in nature. Point is, it’s ALL good and it’s ALL creative.
Sometimes parents wonder whether they are doing enough to expose their kids to “the arts.” But you don’t need trips to Broadway or The Met to spark your child’s imagination.
Truth is, creativity takes many forms and can be nourished at home using simple materials and encouragement from you!
Creativity in the home and community
Curiosity can lead to creativity. What will happen if I mix these two colors of paint together? To spark creativity, encourage your child to experiment with a variety of materials. What sound does rice make in a bottle? Is it different or the same as the sound beans make? Remember, the process is more important than the product when it comes to creative pursuits. The joy is in creating!
- Have crayons, paints, clay, blocks and other supplies to make pictures, collages, buildings. Dig into the recycling bin and get out the paper, scissors, string and glue and let them have at it!
- Use pots and wooden spoons for percussion instruments or have your child try out a guitar or recorder if you have one (supervised).
- Go to the park and point out the different shapes of leaves, different colored flowers, patterns on the bark of a tree. Have your child make patterns with pebbles.
- Walk around your neighborhood and notice the different colors of houses. Notice the shapes of street signs. Look for neighborhood murals or even graffiti.
- Check out the Eugene Public Library or Springfield Public Library for music and story times, as well as special events like comic book building. The LaneKids event calendar is also filled with activities for families, including scavenger hunts, music times, StoryWalks at Alton Baker Park, puppet shows, and more!
- The community is filled with outdoor sculpture, fountains, murals, festivals and other creative opportunities.
Be supportive and encouraging
Children love to share their creations. You can be a good audience by being attentive when they ask to show you their drawing. Take pictures of their creations, and share with grandparents or friends. In addition you can:
- Encourage your child to try out different things – are they most interested in music, drama, painting, or writing (for older children)?
- Remind yourself that children’s interest can change quickly and easily-don’t let it get to you. When you follow their interest, you are letting them know that what they make or do is important, they have good ideas, and they are important.
- Encourage your child to share, but don’t force them to perform, especially in front of others they may not know well or when they are feeling shy.
- Find activities that encourage pride in your cultural or ethnic, racial, or religious identities.
- Introduce your child to artwork, dance, music, and more that comes from diverse communities, while being respectful of the meaning of these activities to the particular culture.
- Proudly display your child’s art: hang up artwork; take photos of dance performances; record their music. Some families have a special frame in a place of prominence where they display and rotate their child’s artwork periodically. Not only will they see how proud you are of their efforts, but you will also be creating wonderful memories for the future for you and for them.
Children can and do learn from creative arts. It needn’t be fancy or formal, but it can easily be part of every day whether it’s a collage made from sticks from the park, a formal tot ballet class, or singing in the bathtub. Encourage your child to find what sparks their interest and gives them enjoyment now and they will enjoy a creative mind throughout their lives.
For more ways to get creative and messy with your child, attend Parenting Now’s free Summer Squishtivities Series! Every Tuesday, from 10 am to 11 am, families can participate in a fun activity, including making foil leaves, sponge painting, and more. Families who join will also take home a free book filled with 30+ Squishtivity ideas!
This article is brought to you by Parenting Now Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com).