Study after study has shown that kids need more than just a formal education in order to excel both academically and socially in life.
A healthy amount of structured and unstructured creative activities combined with play allows kids to develop creativity as well as build other important abilities like fine motor skills and confidence in everyday activities.
Below, we've pulled together a collection of tips we've found helpful in stimulating creativity in kids. We hope they help you and your child spark creativity and share some time together.
Creativity starts and ends with your kid
For children older than 3 to 4, parents can start to encourage them to being to turn their ideas into little creative projects.
Sketches, models, songs, or paintings, the possibilities are nearly endless. Ask your child how they want to express their story and let them take the lead in developing something special.
Drawing, painting, modelling and art
When we think of creativity, us parents instinctively think of art, and with good reason.
Experimenting with art is an excellent expression of creativity in kids. It takes only a little work and minimal supplies to encourage children to put pen to paper and produce all manner of creations.
At Meland, we have two special kits that parents can use to encourage kids to be creative.
Our fuse bead kit lets kids piece together colorful pictures and ideas into permanent keepsakes (with the help of a parent and a hot iron).
Our tie die kit lets parents do something a little different with their kids, creating something that they can proudly wear or look at.
It's a great way to show children the joys of making something new for yourselves, and making something one-of-a-kind.
Creating art also has the wonderful side bonus of developing a child's fine motor skills and building confidence in a child's abilities.
Ask your child for solutions to everyday problems
Creative thinking isn't all about producing art or stories. Developing solutions to everyday problems can be a wonderful way to encourage development of little imaginations.
"How do we put the bed sheets on?", "Where do we get more milk now we've run out?" Ask simple questions and be sure to give your child enough time to respond. If presented with enough new scenarios to solve, children can explore the process of imagining their way through easy problems.
This can also be a way to encourage a little "creative risk taking" in a controlled environment.
Letting your child experiment with their solution and fail, is a brilliant way of teaching iterative problem solving.
Learning that persistence as well as creative thinking can help when tackling difficult problems is a fantastic gift to give to your young one.
However, if parents are doing this, we think it's important to ensure that you always find the positives is a child's attempt at a solution, even if it didn't work.
Encouragement is still the primary job in good parenting while fostering creativity.
For even younger children, it's also important to give them the room to explore fantastical solutions as well as practical. Gently correcting if needed but also letting ideas run if they're having fun.
Make a space for creativity
Some children respond well to having a defined space where they're free to create.
This can be a simple corner set aside in the living room with materials ready, or even a little tent set up to act as a safe space for creative play.
Once your child is comfortable and has everything they need at hand, then their imagination can be set free. Some children even like to name their space, making it their own area.
Having an imaginative space for your child to play also has a great side-effect, a cleaner house! When your kid's creative toys and tools have a home, then it's easier to encourage children to tidy up after themselves.
Play, imagine and inhabit
Through play and make believe, children learn incredibly valuable life skills and stretch their imaginations to the fullest.
Unstructured, unguided playtime is as vital to developing creativity as structured creative activities.
For young toddlers, this can mean being left alone to play with wooden blocks or any other simple toys they're interested in.
Being able to invent her own games to play and to guide her activities by herself, allows a child to explore new ways of using objects and toys. Free-play creative thinking allows your toddler to engage with their own ideas and interests independently.
Meland provides a number of sets to help encourage children to imagine. Our Play Medical Kit, our Deluxe Doctor Kit and our Kids Astronaut Costume are both ideal for little kids to immerse themselves in make-believe, the pretend medical sets are also a great way to build a child's confidence ahead of trips to the doctor.
Make it fun
Creative thinking does take work. It won't come natural to all children and some will find it easier than others.
Some children will find drawing easier than storytelling, while others will excel at make believe while struggling to put ideas into pictures. What's important to ensure that while you're working with your child to foster their imagination, you keep it light and fun.
Children will naturally find fun in play. They will gravitate to what they're good at and quickly discover what they enjoy doing.
Fostering creativity will involve pushing your child into new experiences and letting them discover how to cope themselves, but always doing so while reassuring them and keeping it light. Creativity is quickly stifled when forced (as anyone who has tried to create while "blocked" can attest).
We're a little bias but we think one of the most fun kids toys is our marble run. A great way to combine a bit of creative thinking, some building and a noisy pay off as the marbles clatter down the track.
While we recommended having a space at home dedicated to creative learning, studies have shown that spending time exploring the world outside can greatly improve creative thinking from a young age.
Whether it's a simple walk around your block or a trip to the park, time outdoors can help spark curiosity. While fresh air and exercise is an ideal way to burn off excess energy and help a young child focus when back home.
For the adventurous child, we have a creative way to recreate some of the excitement of outdoors at home. Our camping toys and tent set allow parents to help their kids set up an indoor camping trip.
If possible, slightly older children benefit greatly from experiences in the wild.
Camping and hiking give so many opportunities to expose kids to new challenges and put them in (safe) situations where they can gain confidence and experiment with creative solutions to new scenarios.
Employ technology, sparingly
Use of technology can be a difficult subject while parenting. How much is too much screen-time is a difficult question to answer. Particularly when busy, a tablet can be a great distraction to give a parent a much-needed break. However tablets can also help kids create and explore through the right kinds of apps and a parent helping teach them.
Being there with them
Creative thinking and imagination are like muscles that need to be exercised to grow. Parents need to help with teaching and guiding their kids to develop skills to create and express that will help them all their life. Though seemingly natural, fostering creativity takes work. It involves engaging your kid in play, encouraging them to explore and think, and importantly, to have fun.