Ways to encourage creativity in your child

All children, no matter what their age, love to be creative. The key to encouraging your child’s creativity is to understand them. Each child is different and the best way to understand your child is to follow your little one’s lead.

Mom playing instruments with children

For a few ideas on how to encourage creativity in your child, why not try some of these child-friendly activities. They are simple, inexpensive, effective and, most of all, fun.

Foster a love of music

Music has been found to be very beneficial for children’s minds. The earlier they are exposed to music, the more beneficial it seems to be to their ability to reason, problem solve and think creatively. One particular study at the University of Central Florida, carried out by Debbie Mitchell, found that young children who were given the opportunity to develop their rhythmic skills through music performed better academically throughout their early school years.

For newborns, try playing soothing instrumental music or classical music to encourage sleep. Instead of putting the television on to keep your 1-year-old occupied, you can put on some lively children’s music and get your little one to clap along to the beat. Toddlers love to dance and make noise, so dance around the living room to any sort of music, giving them homemade shakers or musical instruments. For those with young children, spend time singing with them. They don’t mind if you can’t sing in key. They will simply enjoy learning the words and benefit from the self-confidence that this fosters.

Explore in nature

leaves

Children can benefit from nature from a very early age. A 6-month-old can see, hear and smell new things from the comfort of his or her stroller. When your child begins to crawl, let them experience nature by crawling in the grass and touching flowers and leaves. These new experiences are very stimulating for young brains and help to foster healthy curiosity. With toddlers, go for walks in the park, allowing them to set the pace and direction. Don’t underestimate how interesting bugs, ants, butterflies and birds are to young minds.

During summer, allow your child to experiment with water play, whether it is a garden hose, sprinkler, paddling pool, water trough or beach. When the weather cools down, a pile of fallen autumn leaves can provide a fun and creative play experience.

Get involved in imaginary play

Research by psychologist Sandra Russ has found that early imaginative play is associated with an increase in creative performance in later years. Imaginary play begins at an early age. Peek-a-boo is one of the first imaginary play games a baby learns. Imaginary play continues as your little one begins to mimic your actions, such as brushing their hair, dressing and feeding a doll, or using a bowl as a car steering wheel. A child does not need a toy for every occasion. A laundry basket can make a great boat, a bed sheet over the back of a few dining chairs makes a fun camping tent and the backyard can be a wonderful race track for a toddler’s toy cars. Imaginary play encourages cognitive flexibility. In other words, your child uses their brain in more creative and different ways.

Don’t shy away from messy play

Messy play encourages creativity in your child because it is directed by your child. You may see a baby covered in mashed banana, but they have discovered what it feels and tastes like to mash banana into their hair and squish it through their fingers. Messy play is especially beneficial for babies and toddlers. Child-friendly finger paint, food, body lotion, sand or dirt helps to stimulate all your child’s senses as well as developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

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