Fostering Creativity – March 2009

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Have you ever found yourself telling your children what colors they should be using when they are working on an art project?

According to Samantha Stern, training and development director at Ebenezer Child Care Centers, “Creativity provides the greatest opportunity for self expression, and as adults we need to remember that the creative process is more important than the finished product.”

Letting Your Children Make Choices

Stern says the greatest way to foster creativity is to provide your children with many opportunities and time to make their own decisions. She says before you throw anything out, you should think about what could be done creatively with it.

“Cut buttons off of old shirts, save paper towel and toilet paper tubes, and purchase finger paints. Then allow your children access to any age-appropriate materials. Give them plenty of time to roll up their sleeves, have fun, and make wonderful creations. Don’t worry about the mess, and monitor the activity but don’t let yourself direct it.”

The Importance of Creative Play

According to Stern, encouraging your children to use their imagination through self-directed play is also critical to fostering creativity. Good toys for evoking creative play include dress-up clothes, dolls, Duplos, Legos, building blocks, Lincoln Logs. or even a simple cardboard box.

“All of these items can be played with in endless ways allowing your children to have a different creative experience every time they play,” says Stern.

Stern adds that sometimes you will have to aid your children in getting started, but you should simply provide a few ideas about what can be done, so you don’t inhibit their creative ideas.

Never Underestimate the Power of Creative Play

Stern says many parents often underestimate the importance of creative play in their children’s lives, feeling that they need to be in scheduled, structured activities in order to learn. In reality, creative play helps children learn to express their feelings, as well as develop physically, mentally, and socially. Creative play is critical for their development.

“If you don’t feel creative or comfortable with the mess of creative play, tell yourself, it’s not about you. It’s about what’s good for your children.”

Stern adds, “I realize it can be hard sometimes to not be judgmental about what your children are doing or to not direct an activity in a way that you would like to see it done. However, you have to remember that if you keep your thoughts to yourself and foster your children’s creativity, the outcome will be happier children who have the confidence to express themselves freely.”

Ebenezer Child Care Centers, Inc. will be hosting a FREE Family Fun Night on “Fostering Creativity In Children” on Tuesday, March 10, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at their Wauwatosa location in the UnitedHealth Group office building located at 10701 West Research Drive. Come learn more about how to foster creativity in children and enjoy dinner on us. This event, which is sponsored by Children’s Hospital’s Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Fund, is free and open to the public.  Registration is required.  Please call 414-643-5070 to register.

Ebenezer Child Care Centers, Inc. is a not-for-profit, locally based agency committed to providing early care and learning programs from the heart.

The agency prides itself on being different from other child care providers in that it offers a home-like atmosphere, individualized, nurturing care, and a structured curriculum that is virtues-based for every child’s developmental stage. Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social.

The agency has locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, and in Greenfield, Oak Creek, and Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee. For more information please call 414-643-5070.