We often remark on the marvelous creativity of young children from their art to their invented language. As parents, we play an important role in supporting children’s abilities in art, dramatic expression, and creative responses to problems.
Often, our primary goals are directed at keeping our children healthy and safe, teaching skills such as shape and color recognition, and encouraging prosocial behaviors. With all the time that needs to be devoted to these areas of development, less attention tends to be spent on nurturing children’s creative abilities. And yet, creative power increases a young child’s desire to learn and supports intellectual development. How can we encourage creativity today that leads to success tomorrow?
According to Dana Brumm, Curriculum Specialist at Ebenezer Child Care Centers’ West Allis and Southside locations, “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.”
Encourage Pretend Play
Brumm says the greatest way to foster creativity is to encourage pretend play by providing dress-up clothes, building materials, and craft or other items and then get out of the way and let your children’s imagination unfold.
According to Brumm, “Children are naturally curious and imaginative. Most don’t need prodding to engage in pretend play, which encourages empathy, cooperation, creativity, and divergent thinking (the ability to envision multiple outcomes and solutions).”
Encourage Open-Ended Play
Pretend play inspires creativity and enhances decision-making skills, because it is open-ended. Children like to make up their own rules and play objects, rather than having those things prescribed for them.
Brumm says, “Try to give your children toys that allow for play in more than one way such as dolls, Duplos, Legos, building blocks, Lincoln Logs, or even a simple cardboard box.”
Brumm adds that, sometimes you will have to assist 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 Unstructured Play
Brumm 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. 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.”
Brumm adds, “I realize it can be hard sometimes to not be judgmental about what your children are doing or not direct an activity in a way that you would like to see it done. However, you must 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. 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, in Oak Creek, and on the West Allis/Wauwatosa border. The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee. For more information, please call 414-643-5070.