Creative talent may seem mysterious, but it relies more on practice than on innate ability, and it’s one of the keys to problem solving, flexibility, and social success. Imaginative children learn and grow by exploring their creativity—and the more outlets we offer to express themselves, the more they learn to develop complex thinking skills through generating new ideas.
One way to encourage kids’ creativity is to set up an “imagination station,” a dedicated place in the house for them to make art. And as an added benefit, when you build one of these corners, the whole family gets dozens more kids’ activities at a time when everyone is at home more than ever before. With a few key sets of art supplies and a little bit of space, your son or daughter will be ready to create!
First thing you’ll need are art supplies: paints, crayons, markers, chalk, paper of different kinds, costume resources, clay, tape, glue, and fabric are all options. But choose items that are age appropriate for your child and least likely to make a permanent mess in your home. If you’re worried about overwhelming your child with too much, start with a few items and add more when your son or daughter needs new, colorful tools.
Make room for imagination
Your creative corner doesn’t have to fill a whole room, but it should be a spot that’s an established, ready-to-use area of your family landscape. If it’s just a part-time location that does double duty for food prep, work, adult hobbies, or anything else, it becomes difficult for your kids to act on their creative impulses. So even if your dedicated creative space is a small corner, make it a permanent fixture that kids can use on their own whims.
Sure, you want your kids to create awesome artwork or build great-looking fantasy castles, but you also want them to build what they imagine, not approach their projects the way you would. So what if that picture of a cat looks more like an iguana? It’s really your child’s cat-iguana, not yours. And if you step in to suggest that it would look more like a cat if it was drawn a different way, you’re limiting your child’s ideas. Try to remember that the process of creative expression is an important end in itself.
Celebrate their artwork
So, then, what do you do when your child presents their cat-iguana to you and offers a monologue about the iguana-cat’s world? The answer is to love it, no matter what. Frame the iguana-cat and hang it on the wall and record the monologue about the design to play for other family members. And that move will probably encourage another round of creations, so make sure you have a lot of room to hang up more.
Make creativity part of the conversation
Turn your child’s projects into part of the family discussion. What made them want to draw the iguana-cat? Why is its tail green? How do they feel about drawing it? Where do they get their ideas? And you might want to incorporate more discovery into daily activities. Even if an in-person museum visit isn’t an immediate option, you can find virtual tours online. You can also show your child how to focus on the close-up details in your own backyard. Take pictures of the elaborate patterns in tree bark, for example. Or look at the anatomy of a flower and suggest your child use it as inspiration for his or her next project.
Helping your child activate their creativity can turn into a lifelong gift and the tips above can get your family started. Or even if you’ve already got a dedicated creative space set aside in your home, there’s always room to add new elements to it. And if you’re looking for more ways to make all kinds of health possible, take a quick tour of our lifestyle site, healthpossible.org, where you’ll find more tips, tricks, and life hacks from Hancock Health.