Creativity comes from . . . .
I loved watching my kids create things and now I get to watch that same creativity come out in our grandchildren. What fun!
I’m a firm believer that every child needs a sandbox, building blocks, books, and writing paraphernalia at their fingertips. Those are for starters. It also helps if they have other toys items with which to create and play. I used to say that our kids spent as much time building their sets for entertainment than they actually did playing.
My sisters and I were the same. Our sandbox became a farmland with many farms, houses, cornfields, trees, and ponds. We created and designed based on real life situations. Our houses had steps going to the front porch; one house had a spiral staircase designed after our Uncle Omar’s house. We built long lanes from the farmhouse to the main road with curves and hills. The main roads had bridges traversed by our toy tractors and wagons. Our farm vehicles made no noise, so we made the noise for them. It takes more creativity to mimic the putt-putt-putt of a tractor and the shrill noise of a siren than it does to just push a button and have the toy make the noise for you.
Kids don’t need the real McCoy to be creative. In fact, the lack of a real McCoy provides more opportunity for creativity. When we didn’t have “real” bridges, we formed our own in the sandbox. The less we had to work with, the more creative we became. This is true for every child. The problem is that too often children have too many options, so they never learn to improvise. Our boys didn’t have their own pitch pipe like their parents owned, so they improvised. During family devotions, they took turns “blowing the pitch” using a flat canning lid. While the lid wasn’t as thick as an actual pitch-pipe, it was the exact circumference. Less is more. Creativity comes from less, rather than more.
Creative juices flow when they are fueled. Just like any vehicle powered by gasoline, the vehicle cannot run on empty. Too many parents stifle their child’s creativity or plug it. We do this by resisting their desire to play, especially in the house. We also do this by refusing to allow dirt to come into the house. If a child can’t get dirty or sandy outside, he won’t bring it inside. Like a kinked gasoline hose, he will lose his source and his power. A crimped style stifles creativity.
Encouraging our kids to act out or pretend is one of the best ways to help them develop creativity. Their minds are filled with costumes, acting, props, and making it fun for everyone. They learn to use what they have and make it work. The less they have, the greater their improvisation! The more they improvise, the greater their creativity!
A child’s creative juices flow when he is encouraged to pretend, play, and reenact. A child plopped in front of a screen (TV, DVD, or other), entertains his mind without working. Not only is his body inactive, so is his mind. He is fed entertainment instead of providing his own. We expect our kids to learn to feed themselves once they are old enough. We no longer feed them, but hand them a spoon and allow them to feed themselves. It’s the same with children at play. When they are old enough, they need to “feed themselves”, instead of expecting an adult or a screen to do it for them.
The house must be everyone’s domain
The house is not only the domain of mom or of dad; it is also a place for kids to live and grow. Moms or parents who require an immaculate house at all times are the greatest stiflers of kids. Certainly children must learn to pick up and tidy their own part of the house and the sections they demolished during creative play. They will learn when taught properly. Yet, cleanliness is no standard for creativity.
Children need activities that use all their senses. That is why sand, blocks, playdough, finger painting, music, building, competitions, and drama are so important; these use all the senses.
Our kids and grandkids FaceTime me to show what they are doing. A few days ago I got to watch my one of our grandsons as he rolled out play dough, making, he informed me, “pizza and quesadillas”. He is acting out what he observes in real life and gets to participate in with his mom in their home. His creativity is already brimming from the things he is allowed to do in his home, and he’s not even two. I’m so proud of his mom!
A few days ago another grandson (2 1/2) wanted to FaceTime me so I could watch him sing. He stood on the sofa (shoes not allowed) in his house and played his guitar. Propped against the sofa was the house broom. It’s handle was right in front of his mouth. With guitar and “mic”, he performed for me. You bet your bottom dollar I applauded! He doesn’t have a toy mic, so he improvised and formed his own. His mother allowed him to use the broom for his mic. This encourages creativity!
Let home be the heart of your child’s world
When a child is allowed to celebrate and create, his creative juices flow. When he is encouraged to find ways to entertain himself, he will not find life boring. Home should be a fun place to be, not a place that is nothing but rules and boundaries. He can learn to clean up his mess, but do allow him to make the mess!
Granted, there’s a time and a place for everything. Your children can learn when and where is a good time; just make sure they have good places and plenty of time. That’s how creativity flows in kids.