Creativity is a divine gift for humans. It is a coping and survival skill. It can grow and flourish or shrink and barely survive. As a mom, I want to encourage creativity, foster it and make it grow in my girls. Creativity is not limited to crayons, markers, glue and scissors though when kids are young art supplies are certainly a way we encourage creativity. Creativity is not an end product. It is a process. So today, I share 6 ways we foster creativity in our house.
Disclaimer: If you are overwhelmed by the craft world, you need to know that my creativity isn’t of the artsy sort. I create mostly with words. I don’t like to sew, cook, scrapbook, and do DIY projects. But I value the entire creative world, admire the wide-range of skills creative people have, and want to develop these skills in my girls.
6 Ways to Nurture Creativity
- 1. Accept that fostering this gift will result in messes. Be okay with that. Love the messes as part of the process. Still, teach your kids where the best places to make a mess might be in your house and then to clean up the mess when they done (accept that some creative projects will require a mess to remain for weeks).
- 2. Provide access to materials. Since my girls where little, the craft shelf has been within their reach. Certain materials were kept up high, like liquid glue. But pipe cleaners, crayons, paper, glue sticks, wiggly eyes, popsicle sticks, sparkling buttons all have been within reach. As they’ve gotten older, we’ve added stamping supplies, painting supplies, scrap booking papers, felt, needles and thread, scissors with funky edges, and more. The house rule is that the girls have to ask before they create (in case we are about to leave or have company). When they were younger, I used to stress about how much paper they would waste on drawings they spent 2 minutes on. I’ve stopped worrying, because it isn’t worth it, but we have a drawer of scratch paper now.
- 3. As they get older, teach them the importance of a plan. When kids hit mid-elementary, some of them will hit a road block. Creative projects can cause frustration because a finished project doesn’t match the image in their head or they will waste endless time and supplies starting over again and again seeking perfection. Teach them to use that scratch paper to make blue prints for projects. Even God gave plans for the furnishings in the temple. Turning creative ideas into reality rarely happens with out a plan and practice. This step is teaching them to love the creative process.
4.Don’t buy plastic stuff. Really. Who needs doll house furniture that looks pretty but collects dust? I have proud memories of my cheap press board dollhouse. My parents let me paint it and use old floor and wall paper samples to decorate the inside. I used cardboard and fabric scraps to make the furniture, and I was proud to show that thing off for many years. My girls recently are into horses. They thought they needed a horse stable. Toys R Us sells a cool plastic stable for a bunch of money or I have could spent hours looking for a used one and then proudly posted my good deal on Facebook. But my girls? They created a Popsicle stick ranch. It took hours of non-fighting time.
5. Let them fail. When your girl starts sewing a Tinker Bell costume with the felt you keep around and uses a stitch that you know won’t withstand her clumsy fairy flights you can suggest she use the right stitch. But when she insists that her way is going to work, drop it. Let her try. Failure builds character. And there is no need to rub it in with an “I told you so.” But a kind,”Would you like me to help you stitch that so that it stays together?” might end the failure tears and help you two bond. When a failure makes them want to quit, step in and help them see their project through to the end.
- 6. Help them develop their own skills without making them love yours. If your daughter frowns at craft time at VBS (which you planned) or groans about art class at school, her creativity isn’t best nurtured through shopping at JoAnn’s. But if she loves Legos and building blocks, take her to some of the kids’ building classes at Lowes. If your daughter loves to sew and your only sewing skill is attaching buttons, sign her up for a class or ask a friend who quilts to meet with her once a week for a few months to complete a quilting project.
So friends, how do you nurture your child’s creativity? This post is part 3 of 4 in the creativity and kids series. Click here to start at the beginning.
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