Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Creativity in Practice

In the age of technology I often find that children are becoming less and less creative. Less creativity can often bring on speech issues as well. Now, I don't think any parent wants his or her children to follow the same trend. It just happens. The internet, television, smart phones, iPods... How do you get your children to think creatively without any gadgets in their hands? It is back to basics, and if you have little toddlers - now is a good time to make creativity available to them. They will be teenagers before you know it. Here are some practical ways to foster creativity in your young children. Any of them can be customized to be appropriate for the age of your child.

  • Build Forts and Playhouses: To get creative juices flowing use tables, chairs, and linens to build houses for your children to play in! This is perfect for a rainy day or the kids can do this outside (not with your furniture of course). Tree houses fall into this category! With the help of a handy dad these can be safe and fun. You'll have to help little ones but older kids can certainly do this on their own.
  • Paint, Sculpt, and Draw: What can be more creative than art itself? I remember my entire childhood (and beyond) spent drawing and painting. I took art classes in a local school in Russia. Then as a teenager in the US I took private art lessons. To inspire your children to create just take them to a local gallery or museum. I would marvel at the painting and would always want to draw when we came home. I loved sculpting figurines out of play dough as well (the non-toxic kind). Finger painting is great with little ones or you can always use brushes. It will get messy, be prepared!
  • Make Sandcastles: Warm weather is finally rolling around, time to hit the beach soon! Even if it is only 70 degrees, you can dress in layers and go to the beach with a sandcastle building agenda, not necessarily sun tanning or swimming. Younger kids can use molds to help them built, older ones can do it from scratch. There are so many embellishments available at the beach as well - rocks, seashells, driftwood...
  • Create Music: Nothing quite affects the developing brain the way music does. I firmly believe that the type of music your child listens to affects their behavior both immediately and later in life. Starting early with classical music can have profound effects on your child's development. My daughter listened to classical in-utero, she still loves it and loves to dance to it. She loves the piano! I'm on a hunt to get a toy piano for her. You can create music with your child even if you are not very musically inclined. With a keyboard in front of you, a tune can be born with simple imagination.
  • Bake and Cook to Your Hearts Content: Baking can be a tool for teaching speech skills. Hands on textures, smells, and taste are great for young children's brain development. My daughter is absolutely fascinated with baking and can already name many of the ingredients we use. Older children can help actively and can even make up their own recipes! Let them experiment... The kitchen is like a science lab!
I had a conversation recently with an old friend. She concluded that she has a hard time making decisions and knowing what she wants because her mother never encouraged playfulness and creativity. Everything had to be done a certain 'proper' way. She wasn't allowed to be goofy, to be wild, to play like a child should. Interesting? I realized how grateful I am to have a mother who encouraged creativity and let me be myself. She let me paint, build playhouses, and do things that left her lots of cleanup. I am certain that this shaped the person I am today in a very positive way!

Photo Credits (top to bottom): Magda Rocio Barrero, Susan H., Flavio Takemoto, Valdas Zajanckauskas, Tijmen Van Dobbenburgh, Lize Rixt


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