Kids will be the way they’re going to be. Some kids are creative, others enjoy physical activity, others are mathematically inclined, and still others are social butterflies that have the gift of gab. They’re all a little bit different. They’re all curious, though; curious about everything, including creative things.
In order to keep a child that has a maker-friendly attitude creatively inclined, you as a parent can be ready to foster their ideas and expand their young minds.
Pencils, crayons, Play-Doh, paint. All of these things children treasure and absolutely love to use. My number 1 tip is to keep the tools for creativity within the child’s reach, not up on a shelf out of the way. The freedom to be creative when the urge hits, not necessarily when mum and dad are ready to take the time to set them up.
Even your smart phone or tablet can be used for creative purposes. Free apps exist to help kids (and adults too!) create beautiful music, like Smule’s Magic Piano. Games can help creativity too! For example, Speed Guess Something, is a great app that combines gaming and drawing.
Children learn by role modelling and mimicking. If you want them to be creative, be creative around them and with them. You don’t have to be good at being creative. When my wife and I decided that we wanted to bring up creative, out of the box thinkers in our family, the first project we planned was a 3-way drawing project. The kids started by drawing a sun and sky as well as a giant candy cane (the neighbour’s yard had a giant candy cane decoration up for Xmas), and we just went from there.
There are also personal benefits from working with the kids this way. I’ve noticed that my own skills in sketching have increased a great deal since I’ve started and I enjoy it, even finding time to draw without the kids.
The key word here is mess. Glitter, construction paper clippings and glue will get everywhere and it’s important for them to be free to do so. Finger painting! This is amazing for kids but terrifying for parents. Kids, messes and creativity are 100% tied together.
Creativity at a young age shouldn’t have any boundaries. This includes the finished product! Perfectionism isn’t creative, in fact it stifles creativity. Creativity lies in mistakes – the colour that went outside the lines can become a happy face! When they say that the smudge-smiley is mum’s happy face, life will never be the same. It is 100% ok for a kid’s final product to be a non-perfect work of art. It might even just end up being a mess! But it’s their unique creation, and they can be proud of that.
Creatively answering a question, or discovering answers about the universe, is just as valid form of creativity as oil painting or clay modelling.
Art projects are just the beginning. For example, my wife loves being creative in the kitchen. She regularly gets the kids involved in cooking. She has even taught me how to cook! Teach them a recipe; start with something easy. Once they get the hang of it, encourage them to explore spicing up a dish with their own touches. Let them experiment and decide if they should use black pepper or paprika on the scrambled eggs. Even let them try a little garlic salt and sugar (don’t do the whole pan!) if they want to.
We’ve found apps that help our kids explore the stars (star chart), create their own paper animals or, for older kids, write their own comic books. Many adults assume that “screen time” is brain dead time, but studies have shown that there is a great deal of educational value locked inside the App Store and Google Play for toddlers and kids. The challenge is to separate the wheat from the chaff. If you’d like some help with that, visit www.squaggle.com.au and download our free guide ‘The top 10 apps to make your kid smarter’.
My kids love creative time with their parents, I’ll bet your kids will love it too. Go on. Give it a go!