It’s important to give kids valuable skills so they can follow their dreams. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you know the value of creative skills.
Creative skills are important in every day of our lives, from solving problems to having fun!
Kids are often more creative than their parents… until they begin to limit themselves due to fear of judgement or failure. So creativity declines as we get older. But it certainly doesn’t have to!
Nurturing creativity in kids builds their skills and their confidence.
Here are 12 ways to nurture creativity:
1. Provide creative space
Allocate some space for kids to let their imaginations run!
It might be a desk, a playroom, a corner, or even a cupboard of supplies. Importantly, kids should feel that they are welcome to use the space, and that they have some control over it.
Do you remember the excitement that you feel when you see fresh stationery, or pick up new art supplies, or enter a hardware store? Oh the possibilities! Kids feel that excitement when they have materials at their fingertips in their very own creative oasis.
Essential items for a creative space include a range of papers, cardboard, wood pieces, glue, sticky tape, pens, pencils, paint, fabric, string, cutting tools, ruler, and loose bits.
After setting up a creative space, keep adding freshness with interesting items that you come across in your daily activities. Reusing and recycling items is particularly beneficial!
A creative space will entertain kids for hours at a time.
2. Set aside free time
Kids need time to make their own choices in play and to use their imaginations. Regularly set aside time for kids to have time to work on their own projects with very limited guidance.
If kids become bored, encourage them to explore what might spark their interest. Keep some activity books, activity sheets, project kits or other prompts on hand to help their exploration. Encourage experimentation!
Don’t be concerned if kids don’t complete a creative project that they started – their attempt at the project was more important because they’re trying new things and flexing their creative brains.
3. Offer open-ended activities
Open-ended activities are those that enable kids to play freely and make their own choices. Kids bring both their imaginations and knowledge to the play.
Examples of open-ended activities that are fun to do at home are doodling, role-playing, using building blocks, playing dress-ups, constructing from loose bits, playing with animals, writing songs, and making free-form artworks.
An extra benefit of open-ended play is there is no end point, so it can keep kids entertained for a long time.
Open-ended activities are the opposite of activities that follows guides, such as colouring in between the lines, completing a puzzle, or building a model from instructions. These very structured activities don’t require much creativity to complete.
4. Choose gifts that inspire
There are so many occasions to give gifts, big or small. Birthdays, Christmas, holidays, rewards… Why not give gifts that grow creativity?
What kid doesn’t enjoy receiving craft supplies, building materials, costume parts, age-appropriate tools, gadgets, art packs or colourful stationery? All these encourage creativity and imagination. Activity kits also provide hours of creative inspiration in one neat package.
When choosing your next gift, equip the kids to fuel their creativity by giving them fun and inspirational activities.
5. Be an explorer
Be curious! Try things you’ve never done before! Venture to new places!
Trying new things and going outside of comfort zones gives kids new experiences, and those new experiences expand their horizons. Kids learn that we can do more than they ever thought possible!
How about exploring a science centre, an aquarium, a park without a playground, or a puppet theatre? What new play spaces have opened in your area?
Whatever you choose to explore, encourage kids to notice how they feel and what their senses detect. This enhances the exploration and the impact of the adventure.
6. Talk out ideas
Giving recognition and time for creative ideas reinforces that those ideas are valuable.
If a kid expresses a new idea, it is special! So take a moment to discuss, encourage or expand the idea with them. Encourage them to draw upon their imagination, rather than describing something they’ve seen before.
In conversations, ask kids about their creative moments, for example what they recently drew, designed, built or imagined. This is particularly effective after school, instead of “how was your day”.
Social interactions are opportunities to exchange ideas, views and knowledge. Invite people to join a group, add a creative project, and you have a simple and cost-effective way to keep kids entertained and learning.
Some kids are motivated by a challenge involving other people of a similar age. There are frequently creative challenge competitions for kids in Australia, such as drawing, engineering ideas, writing or expressing big dreams. You can find these through search engines or by following our Facebook page.
8. Focus on the process, not the outcome
Developing our creative brain takes practice! Through practice, we learn to connect separate pieces of information together to form new ideas.
Create a safe environment for creative ideas, free from criticism and fear of failure. Kids do best when they feel comfortable to experiment and vocalise their ideas.
At first, kids need to learn how to generate more ideas. This is much more important than how good the ideas area. So, focus on the process of coming up with ideas, rather than the outcomes.
Ask for kids thoughts on problems, such as issues discussed in the media. This practices their creative skills.
Encourage ‘critical thinking’ by looking at the known information, then considering the options, and using facts to form solutions. Let kids disagree with you if they can give a reason why they disagree!
Here’s an interesting tip to try: to get kids to do something, try using questions instead of commands. Ask questions and brainstorm to guide them towards understanding why they need to take an action, rather than asking them outright to do the action. It’s not easy for adults, but it is effective for everyone!
Celebrating the creativity of kids builds their confidence and pride. Shower praise for ideas; give positive recognition for attempts; and show off creations. Display kids’ work and encourage them to communicate new thinking.
Ask kids for their novel thoughts on a subject out of respect for their input.
Tell kids about people that you respect and their ideas e.g. artists, entrepreneurs. If kids can see good role models, they can set good goals.
11. Model confidence
Avoid showing your fears of judgement or failure, as kids afraid of failure will limit themselves. Rather, acknowledge your mistakes and failures to demonstrate that it is okay.
Talk about your own mistakes and laugh at yourself, so kids understand that mistakes or shortfalls are part of life and learning. Compliment yourself for mistakes because you tried and took a risk! Learning from mistakes makes us better people.
12. Take time for your own creativity
Kids learn from watching and being involved in what is around them. What they learn helps form who they become. Therefore, be proud of your own attempts at creativity! For example, depending on your interests, this might be designing, building, art, cooking or simply an expression of your new ideas.
Don’t hold back your ideas due to fear of judgement! Adults tend to stifle their ideas and dreams and this is not a mindset that you want to pass on. So enjoy time to grow your own creativity.
The more we can incorporate creativity into our lives, the more it will grow. Developing creativity is a life long venture and it’s never too late to start!
For further tips, see more articles about kids creativity.