Like most areas in which the growth and development of your children is concerned, creativity starts at home. You control everything your child consumes during their formative years, so it’s up to you to ensure that their capacity for creativity is nurtured and encouraged from an early age. But if we’re being honest, we all face some of the same challenges when it comes to delivering a diverse palette of experiences for our kids. We get tired, or bored, or we may not even think of ourselves as being particularly creative. How can you teach your kids something you simply don’t know?
It can be much easier than you think. Take, for example, art. Maybe the closest you ever came in your life was the Art History class you took in college, and you had a rough time. You’ve seen your child draw stick figures and squiggles that make more sense than your Picasso-fied disasters of art projects. Don’t despair. There are ways you can nurture your child’s artistic talent without having to be a professional artist yourself. For one thing, you can take a trip to the museum. Almost every city has one and it’s a good way to give your child a taste of art through the ages. A lot of times, you can even find kid-friendly tours that make it fun (hey, you might even learn something).
If you’re worried that a museum might be a little too stodgy for your four-year-old, consider an arts and crafts class. You can usually find classes for kids through your local YMCA or community center. This will also give them an opportunity to interact with their peers and prepare for school (if they haven’t already had daycare or preschool). Or you may find that a “Mommy and Me” class with an artistic element is more to your liking. Either way, it will take the pressure off you to come up with project ideas.
If, on the other hand, you do find yourself interested in artistic endeavors, but maybe you just need a little help to make them kid-friendly, there is no better resource than the internet. Sites like www.artprojectsforkids.org and www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts can help you plan activities that will get your little tyke’s creative juices flowing (and create a host of decorations for your fridge). However, aside from making art accessible to your children, the most important thing you can do to engender creativity is to be supportive. Allow them to make mistakes and only offer help if they need it. You want them to feel comfortable (not controlled) so they can become confident in their own abilities. And be sure to compliment them on their efforts. Your praise will make them want to try more, and this is the most basic tenet of a creative mind.
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Photo Credit: David Sim