Children are almost universally creative. They’ll create imaginary worlds, imaginary friends and mountains of drawings. In fact, nurturing this creative drive in children is more about staying out of their way and giving them the tools they need to do their creative work than anything else. Given an environment that supports their creativity, kids will stay creative longer and become more engaged with their creative work, learning skills they can bring with them as they grow into adulthood. Here are some easy ways to nurture your own creative kids.
Make Time for Creative Work
Creating work takes time, and if we’re so busy with activities that there’s no time or energy left over when we’re done, it’s hard to be creative. Plan your week so that your creative kids have several blocks of time to devote to their own pursuits.
Give Creative Kids Space and Supplies
When children have their art supplies within easy reach, they’re much more likely to spontaneously get creative when they have an idea. A child-sized table with crayons, paper, scissors, tape and glue is a great place to start. Yes, you will need to teach them how to clean up their own mess, but every time they have an idea and get started on it they’re practicing skills they may use someday as a entrepreneur, freelancer or creative director.
Let Your Child Lead
Adult-directed art classes and activities do have benefits for kids, but it’s also important for kids to have time to think about their own ideas and engage in projects of their own choosing. If you find that your kids complain that they don’t know what to do when you give them some open-ended time, set out some supplies and a general idea (today we’re going to use watercolours to paint things we see in the house) and let them go on their own from there.
Join In, But Keep Quiet!
It is so tempting to use the time our kids are engaged to get some of our own work done. But what you pay attention to grows and thrives, and children’s creativity is no different. Sit down and join in! If your kids are drawing, do some drawing too. It doesn’t matter if your skills are dramatically better or worse than theirs. By participating you’re showing them that creative work is worth spending your time on, that it’s OK to practice and get better at something, and that you enjoy spending time with them. Avoid showering praise on them or pushing them to create a specific finished product. (I know it’s hard!) Focus instead on asking questions or making comments that focus on specific areas of their work. “I see how you used lots of little dots to show the texture here,” or “It took a long time to get that curve just right, didn’t it?”
Creative Kids in a Changing World
In today’s changing world, we don’t know what the economy or workplace will look like when our kids arrive there. If today’s trends are any indication, it is quite likely that the most successful people in our children’s generation will be the entrepreneurs, skilled contractors and freelancers who know how to generate novel ideas and turn them into reality. Creative, self-directed, project-based work is the perfect way for our kids to practice those skills. For more ideas on nurturing your own creative kids, check out the books Playful Learning by Mariah Bruehl and Project-Based Homeschooling by Lori Pickert.
How do you nurture your own creative kids?
Michelle Carchrae is often asking those important life questions: "who moved the scissors?", "how would you do that differently next time?" and "are you finished with the glitter glue?" Homeschooling two girls, ages 6 and 3, is her full time job. The rest of the time Michelle can be found blogging at The Parent Vortex, hiking in the forest or knitting and reading simultaneously. She recently published her first ebook, The Parenting Primer: A guide to positive parenting in the first six years, and moved to Bowen Island.