Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fostering creativity in kids

I was perusing the Cotton Babies site today, the home of BumGenius diapers and stumbled upon the question: How do you encourage a creative, artistic spirit in your baby, toddler or young child?  Creativity is paramount in my family.  My mother is an oil painter as was my husband's grandmother.  We both grew up around creative spirits and we love art galleries, concerts, films, and plays.  My own experience shows me how art and creativity helps solve problems, create connections, and inspire emotional development, so we've tried to encourage our children by fostering their own creativity.

We started by creating an inspiring environment.  Drawing off resources like freecyle and craft stores, we've created a bedroom ripe for imaginative play and creativity for less than $50.  Our son can cook up dinner in his kitchen for us, or draw pictures in the small art station, or curl up to enjoy imaginary worlds on his homemade bean bag.  We imagined the coolest room we could have had as children and made it happen, stocked with crayons, colored pencils, blocks, and imaginative toys.

Living in a large metro area, we try to seek out local cultural events.  My kids love the music and costumery that accompany many countries' traditional ceremonies and it's wonderful exposure to the creativity and originality of world cultures.  Try looking for local magazines that keep trackof upcoming events in your area and take advantage.

Take a day and visit a children's museum near you.  These museums often offer a variety of hands-on, learning activities as well as arts and crafts room.  If you are lucky enough to have a local museum, see about supporting them through a family membership and organize a meet-up with other parents and kids.  Giving kids a creative environment and the fresh perspectives of other children their age can inspire kids to think outside the box.  Children connect over art.

Encourage their creative endeavors by giving them a gallery to show off their latest creations.  Consider hosting an open house for family members where you display their drawings, paintings, and crafts.  Not only will Grandma and Grandma get a kick out of seeing their excitement, it will help them articulate how they feel about their art, creating emotional connections with the place it has in their lives.

And parents don't foget to get messy!  I mean you not just them.  The best way to foster creativity is to get down and dirty with your kids - fingerpaint, jump in rain puddles, dress up and put on a play.  Playful parenting helps kids work through the emotional and developmental stresses growing up comes with in a healthy way.  The best we can give them is time to play.


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