Creativity has been a core part of my single goal for 2016. Fostering creativity in kids is something that I feel passionately about so when Mia Northrop from riddle and Chance asked me if this is something I would like a post on for this blog, I said yes without a hesitation.
I truly believe that creativity adds so much to our lives and needs to be encouraged in kids. I am far from perfect at doing this, so loved reading these tips from Mia on how to establish a more creative home – perfect timing with school holidays on their way!
Mia has just started her own blog where she shares the best books about writing and the publishing industry, and is documenting her journey an emerging writer to published author. You can read her work here.
Creativity is a precious aspect of childhood. Not only does it allow kids to express themselves through art, craft and play, but creative processes and activities are also vital skills to develop for adulthood. Lateral thinking, divergent thinking, imagination and innovation are abilities that serve each of us in our day-to-day life and work.
In her book, The Creative Family, Amanda Blake Soule writes that “As parents, it is both our responsibility and privilege to be sure that our family’s creative spirits have all the room and tools they need to soar freely.”
Think beyond art supplies. To allow creativity to flourish in your home, focus on these three core aspects:
- attitude and atmosphere
- experiences and
Attitude and atmosphere
Park your own self-doubt if you have labelled yourself or your child uncreative. Creativity is teachable. In fact, you may have found that your creative nature has been awoken by seeing the world through your child’s eyes or by witnessing their novel problem solving. An attitude that supports open self-expression, risk taking, occasional messiness and trial and error is key.
Foster an atmosphere at home where individuality is expected, independence is welcome and confidence is built. Creativity will thrive in a climate that feels emotionally safe and non-controlling. While you may watch frustrated as you child tries and fails at something, originality emerges when a parent doesn’t take over a child’s task. Stimulate and extend their initial interest and ideas, then let them follow their own inspiration.
Alissa Marquess, from the website Creative With Kids, suggests these words of encouragement to add to your arsenal:
- “I’m excited to see what you do.”
- “You’ve made me think of things in a completely new way.”
- “Your ideas are interesting.”
- “How did you do that?”
- “I am curious what you think.”
- “You can change your mind.”
- “Trust your instincts.”
Your resident young performer, scientist, artist or philosopher is best nourished when creative activities can happen frequently and within a generous amount of time. Where and when does your child have the opportunity to show their curiosity and intuition, persistence and open-mindedness? What kinds of experiences lead them to flexible, complex and elaborate thinking where they need to consider things in a different way or to a great degree of detail?
Exposure to the greater world around them, other ethnicities and cultures, nature, different time periods and even different planets can trigger ideas and exploration in a myriad of directions. On the other hand, focusing in on the home – your rituals and memories, food and celebrations – and embracing the handmade can open up another rich source of inspiration.
Kids are likely to enter that blissful flow state when they’re engrossed in something that is challenging but not overwhelming. Arts and craft, role playing, imaginative or pretend play and any other play that is spontaneous and self-directed can all lead to this creative state.
Oh the joy of buying art supplies! All the possibility that is crammed into those store shelves, heaving with pristine paper stock, virgin paintbrushes and clean stencils. This source of fun stuff is just the beginning, however. You’re likely to already have many items that can be made easily accessible to the kids for some creative play.
Materials that you may like to have on hand include:
- dress ups and face paint, costumes, kitchen, hospital, post office, workshop, nursery and shop props
- acrylic and watercolour paint, crayons, pencils, textas, paintbrushes, stamps, stencils, chalk
- play dough, plasticine, magic sand, potter’s clay, mud
- scrap magazines, catalogues, newspaper, calendars and books, clothes patterns, photos, wrapping paper, recycled cardboard and plastic boxes, tubs and tubes
- blank paper, cardboard, cards, colouring in books, scrapbooks
- ribbon, felt, string, cotton wool, pop sticks, matchsticks, pompoms, stickers, glitter, foil, sticky tape, glue
- leaves, pinecones, bark, nuts, wood, flowers, herbs, shells
- microphones, stage, old sheet or curtain, spotlight lamps, music, instruments, puppets
- magnifying glass, binoculars, camera, thermometer
- food dye, ice cubes, rock salt, pasta shapes, popcorn, beans
- beads, blunt sewing needle, scissors, fabric, wool, buttons
- bricks, blocks, models, toy animals, doll houses.
Storing all of these supplies and toys can be a challenge. Art caddies, baskets, cardboard or wooden boxes, crates, old suitcases, racks, pegs, hampers, bags, folders, trunks, shelves and cupboards all offer solutions. What can be kept in your child’s bedroom or playroom, the lounge room, study or kitchen? Perhaps the garden shed or outside suits best? Some families rotate supplies out of storage based on the weather, the season or simply the mood of the members.
A world authority on creative thinking, Edward de Bono, suggests “Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.” These are notions that every kid and parent can embrace. Everyone wants to find something that they are good at, discover something new and be given time to explore and test their ideas. Creative pursuits offer this opportunity.
We’ve all walked into someone’s home that oozes evidence of creative minds at work. Be reassured that creative families can be nurtured. Your creative home is just a few steps away.
Mia writes children’s picture books, essays, short stories and novels. She was born in Jamaica, raised in Perth, studied in Vancouver, worked in London and New York and lives with her young family in Melbourne, where she spearheaded the Vindaloo Against Violence anti-racism initiative. She blogs about writing and the pursuit of getting published at www.riddleandchance.com.