All that a child needs is fresh air and love and sunshine, they used to say. But these days, everybody knows that creativity is just about as essential. Some parents and teachers often make the mistake of assuming that some children are born creative. That’s not true because creativity is often confused with something like talent or skill.
The thing about creativity is that it is like a complete planned food for the brain – it involves all activities that stimulate the brain like planning, thinking, exploring, discovering and expressing.
There are many obvious ways to introduce creativity in a child’s life. Music, art and dance are very good examples. But true creativity comes in all forms and can be applied in the most mundane tasks and even the most boring jobs. For instance, nobody would think that standing in the line at the grocery store or supermarket is fun, but a really inquisitive child will notice how the clerk packs all the items in the paper bag. Now isn’t that a challenge? See how fast a kid can bag all the items. Better still; make it into a fun game so that many kids can compete.
Here are more ways to nurture and grow creativity in kids:
- Stay Vigilant: Look for interesting activities hidden in boring tasks or let your kid discover it.
- Refrain from asking questions: When a kid shows you a drawing or a new dance step, try not to ask about the theme or explanation.
- Stock up on material: Keep plenty of newspapers, glue sticks, crayons, collage material, buttons, beads, play dough and colored paper handy. All these materials encourage children to explore and creatively express their thoughts.
- Do not reward the child: Never reward kids for expressing their creativity. It might sound counterintuitive, but in truth, the reward system interferes with the process of creativity. The creative process by itself is a reward and you can encourage creativity by engaging your kid in a another area or subject. But offer praise for the efforts and encourage him/her to go ahead and come up with better ideas!
- Turn off the TV: It might sound like a cliché, but it is true – turn off your television and look for other sources to provide entertainment. Picture books, pop-up cards and sound books are nice ways to engage very young children. You can even find books and kits that help your kids make their own creative stuff like castles, greeting cards and puppet theaters.
- Let some clutter stay: We all love to keep our house clean and tidy, but experts say that a little amount of clutter, especially in your kids’ room can stimulate creativity. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? Apparently the random objects lying around are supposed to trigger creativity by allowing children to make random connections and unique patterns.
- Lend a hand only when necessary: Strike the right balance between helping out and stepping back. While a kid might feel shy about trying out creative ideas when you’re around all the time, it can get a little tough without a little support now and then. Be willing to offer ideas and help and then provide enough space to explore.
- Be creative everyday: Most important of all, make sure that no matter how busy the day is, there is always some time allotted exclusively for creative play. Even if it’s not possible every day, make some room for a few hours in the weekend to have some wholesome fun!
Rama Ramesh is a creative writer and has been writing for children for about 6 years. She has published stories/features in different Indian children magazines. She has also co-authored a series of books on nanotechnology for kids. She has a post graduate degree in biotechnology and has interest in all science topics.