Creativity has immense value, not only in the arts but also in the professional world. In fact, 60 percent of CEOs in a recent IBM study placed creativity at the top of their lists when it comes to the most important qualities for business success. Fostering creativity can start at a very young age. Here are ways you can encourage the children in your life to get in touch with their creative sides.
Get Out in Nature
In an age when cartoons can be streamed for hours on end and 150 million Americans play video games regularly, it seems technology is never more than an arm's length away. In some cases, it's even in our pockets! However, getting outside in nature has been shown to have an immense impact on one's ability to think creatively. Put down the tablet or turn off the television and head outside with your children for a hike in a city park or a family camping trip. Unplugging for an extended period of time allows your mind to rest and begin formulating new and creative ideas. What a great excuse to get some sunshine in your life!
Instead of watching superheroes on TV, encourage your child to create her own stories. Have her dress up in costume and save her own princess, or give her scenarios (a shipwreck on a deserted island, the first day of school) and let her imagination run wild. Use props to lend an air of authenticity to the play. Beyond the obvious boost to creative thinking, playing pretend is also a great way to build confidence, work out conflicts and develop social skills.
Do Arts and Crafts
To many kids, making arts and crafts goes hand in hand with childhood. From designing cards for a parent's birthday to coloring in a coloring book, there are several fun and easy ways to encourage creativity through artistic activities. To avoid frustration and allow your child to stretch his imagination, choose crafts that leave room for kids to add their own spin on what they create. Keep things open by providing him with different materials (construction paper, safety scissors, Popsicle sticks, homemade font stencils, feathers, sequins, etc.) and let him go wild. You may be surprised with what he creates!
Start Music Lessons
As early as about age four, kids can start benefiting from taking music lessons. While learning an instrument can be a very structured activity (remember playing those scales in your first music book?), it also opens up a part of your brain that aids in literacy and academic success. This translates into a spark of creativity within math and science, a field typically thought of as rigid. In this way, your child can have an artistic and creative pursuit that also aids her in her school studies. Sounds like a win-win situation!
Read, Read, Read
Finally, no list of creative pursuits would be complete without mentioning the extreme importance of reading to and with your child. The benefits of this act are practically infinite, with reading to young children being shown to improve language acquisition, literacy, connections between parents and their children, communication and even graduation rates. When reading with your child, encourage them to think creatively by asking them to predict what might happen next, or providing "what if" scenarios. For example, "What if Max had stayed with the Wild Things?"
Fostering creativity in your children can be a fun way to reconnect while also disconnecting from ever-present electronic media. Who knows? You may even see your own creativity improve as a result.