Easy Ways to Boost Your Child’s Creativity

We are all born creative. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. If we weren’t born creative we would never figure out how to roll over, sit up, or cry/laugh/whimper for attention. And, that’s before we have language skills! Somewhere between learning these skills and starting schools most of us have the creativity squashed out of us or, at the very least, hiding in the shadows of our souls. Any informal poll of adults will reveal that far fewer than 25% of them consider themselves to be creative on any level. Is it any wonder kids struggle with creativity?

We are all born creative. We’re not all talented, but we are creative. Nuture this side of your child (and yourself) and you will reveal layers of personality, ideas and depth you did not know existed. Play/create alongside your child and you’ll find yourself opening up as well. Concentrate on the act of creating and not on the results and you’ll likely end up pleased with both.

Play with color (2+)

Using finger paint or tempera paint get down and messy with your little people. Smear paint on butcher’s paper, waxed paper, and even on old sheets of newspaper. Talk about the colors you like and don’t like. Mix colors and see what happens. (red+yellow=orange, red+blue=purple, yellow+blue=green, everything mixed together=mud brown) Make shapes, people, smears and even try letters and numbers. Save your art and use it as wrapping paper - really - it’s fun and looks awesome wrapped around a package.

Wear old clothing and embrace the mess. Do not waste time washing up hands and surfaces until you are completely done. Once you are completely done, stick your little person in the tub while you clean up in the sink. Part of creativity is learning to make a mess and live with it until the project is done. Nothing is going to be permanently harmed during this project, just relax and have fun.

Make a recycled city (4+)

Save your paper towel/toilet paper rolls, aluminum foil scraps, fabric/yarn, netted bags (onions), cereal boxes, styrofoam and other recyclable materials for a week or so. When you have a good supply and a cleared kitchen table (or other work surface) - set down a flattened piece of cardboard as a base and start building your very own city. Have masking tape, duct tape, real glue (not school glue), butcher paper (to wrap around boxes so they can be decorated), paints, markers and crayons on hand when you start. This is project that can last 2-7 days, depending on the kids and your supplies. Don’t worry if nothing makes sense - just see what happens. Take lots of pictures as you build. If your kids are really involved, grab some paper and keep notes on what they’re talking about as they build. It’s fun to make a whole story when it’s done.

Get real (6+)

Pick a wall on a porch, in one of the kids’ rooms, in the bathroom and get to work making a mural! You will have to paint the wall a solid base color. After that, work with your kids to come up with a plan for a design - geometric, a favorite book picture, a vacation photo. For realistic pictures, use a grid that can go from small picture to wall and sketch the picture square by square using the grid.

Give everyone a paper plate with acrylic colors and get to work. Put on your favorite music or an audiobook as you work. Don’t rush, don’t correct the kids (unless they get really crazy) and see what happens. You will end up with a wall full of memories of the actual process of painting. Even if you don’t love it or if it’s not worthy of Architectural Digest you will be glad you tried this. And, it’s just paint, when you or the kids are done with it, just put a new coat of paint over the top (after you’ve taken pictures).

Creating is fun! Discover it for yourself with your kids. Make a mess - you’re all washable! Laugh. Even if your end result is not museum-worthy, you’ve succeeded if you enjoyed the process. Don’t give up after just one project. Try new things every few months. Let your kids see you make mistakes and move on. Let them make mistakes and say nothing. Just have fun. You might be surprised in several years to see the fruits of these labors come to bear as your children opt to study engineering or design.

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