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Little Zen Minds

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Genius of Play… Encouraging creativity through play.

Posted by Meredith Sinclair for the Genius of Play on

In my role as an educator and parent, I have never met a mom or dad that doesn’t want their child to be “creative”. Creativity is seen as an important component in the over-all success for children. And rightly so. For without creativity, there is simply one view of the world and no hope for the novel and never-been-done-before.

Even the word creativity is beautiful and artistic, and full of possibilities for invention, expression, creation, and vision. Creative activities naturally bring out a child’s unique view of the world and their place within it. When we allow for, facilitate, and appreciate our children’s creative self-led endeavors, we in turn fully celebrate them as the one-of-a-kinds that they are.

“Creative activities naturally bring out a child’s unique view of the world and their place within it.”

Open-ended, creative activities are also a breeding ground for important developmentally important skills such as regulating and expressing emotions, building communication skills, collaboration and cooperation with their peers, social dexterity, and self-expression. Fostering the creative in our young children not only serves them well as youngsters, it serves them super-well as young adults and ultimately grown-ups who will quickly discover that a keen and well-played creative sense is an incredibly desirable employee characteristic as well. So how do we foster and encourage, and amp-up our young charges creative streak? Here are a few simple ways to get you started.

5 quick tips for awakening your child’s creative spirit:

  1. If you build it, they will come. Like cookies on an open platter, or an adorable puppy video on Facebook, human beings simply can not resist adorably enticing things staring at them. SO if you want your kids to participate in creative things, provide them with creative things. And time alone with them.

  2. Value process over product. We all love a good craft project that comes out looking as perfect as the photo on Pinterest. But there is no better creativity killer than “make this look exactly like this example”…or it’s wrong. Provide kids with lots of opportunity to create open-ended, uniquely their own works of art, music, dance, or style.

  3. Engage and encourage. Show your kids you care about what they are creating by asking them to tell you about their creation, or asking “how does this piece make you feel?” Avoid statements like “that’s so nice” or “what a pretty dinosaur” (when it turns out they were trying to make a unicorn), oops. They don’t need your adult- approval of their creative explorations. Let them make those judgments for all themselves.

  4. Be cool with all those MESS-terpieces. Creativity is often messy…or loud, or unpredictable, or unruly, or a little risky. Be cool with that.

  5. Tap into your own playful and creative spirit. We are the most important models in our children’s lives, whether we always like it or not. If you’ve always wanted to be a SUPER-model, now’s your chance. The best way to get your child’s creative spirit awakened is by shaking your own out of its deep sleep. Set up an easel and paint…even if you “can’t” paint. Buy a ukulele and learn how to play, take a tap dance class just for the fun of it.