When you hear the word “creativity,” what are some images and words that come to mind? Do you think of art? Paint palettes and the like? If so, you’re not alone! While creativity definitely includes the act of creating art, there’s so much more to creativity than we might at first think. We’d love to invite you on a journey to re-imagine this word with us!
We believe creativity is about the ability to generate, create, or discover new ideas, solutions, and possibilities. While we often tap into these abilities to create works of art, we believe creativity can be found in play, science, cooking, fashion, sports, language, math . . . just about anywhere! Creativity is about tapping into our own imagination, curiosity, interest, and spark. We can teach our kids that creativity is a way of being in the world that we bring with us everywhere we go.
The Benefits of Creativity
At its core, creativity is a key growth-mindset skill that allows us to create new things (inventions, solutions, etc.) from our own ideas and imaginations. Creativity helps us to solve problems, create work-arounds, and come up with new and fun ways to play.
Practicing creativity . . .
- Allows us to express ourselves
- Promotes thinking and problem-solving skills
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Allows us to have fun
- Gives us a sense of purpose
- Encourages feelings of meaning, accomplishment, and pride
- Improves our ability to focus
- Promotes risk-taking and growth mindset
- is a prerequisite for innovation
- Encourages lifelong learning
What Hinders Creativity?
We love the idea that creativity is for everyone, and we also want to acknowledge the many factors that inhibit adults and children from tapping into their inherent creative force.
When the nervous system is in a state of fight, flight, or freeze due to trauma and a lack of safety, it can be very difficult if not impossible to access a state of creativity. Sometimes, families have the ability to create safer environments for children so their creativity can flourish, but this is not always possible. Larger forces like systemic oppression, socioeconomic stress, environmental trauma, and historical trauma greatly impact many children’s safety.
Creativity can be a powerful healing force that offers the freedom to imagine a more equitable and inclusive world beyond current norms that allow oppressive power structures to exist. Through a creative re-imagining of our current world, we can examine and dismantle these structures and create new ones.
Tips for Promoting Creativity in Kids
Babies have not yet developed abstract thought or the ability to engage in pretend games, but their curiosity and interest in exploring the world and their ability to find new uses for objects is a precursor and vital step for other types of creativity later on.
Tips for promoting creativity in babies:
- Offer novel experiences to explore taste, sound, touch, feel, and sight. These full sensory experiences give them opportunities to engage their interest and curiosity, which are important aspects of creativity.
- Set them up with choices. Do they want to reach for the crinkly paper or try the new citrus flavor? Help them flex their autonomy.
- Give them lots of positive verbal feedback about what they’re exploring so they begin to learn the value of new experiences. “Oh, that lemon is sour! How fun to try a new flavor!
Between 18-24 months, children begin to engage in their first pretend games. Many kids this age enjoy make-believe, art, and role-play. These are the main ways they learn as they begin to try out new things and connect with others.
Tips for promoting creativity in little kids:
- Engage them in child-centered play. Allow them to take the lead, but stay close and attentive.
- Offer them unstructured play time, where they are free to choose what to engage with. Allow them freedom and choice, and you might be surprised what they come up with!
- During both child-centered and unstructured play time, notice and reflect what you see with curiosity and non-judgment. This helps children build trust in their ability to explore, learn, and create.
Big kids have the potential to really dive into creativity in their own unique ways through art, play, science, music, dance, fashion, sports, language—you name it. Older kids often struggle with comparing themselves to others, and this can sometimes make for a “creativity block” of sorts. Sometimes, older kids think creativity means just being “good at art,” but we can help them tap into a growth mindset when we teach them to explore their unique gifts and strengths and see them as creative forces.
Tips for promoting creativity in big kids:
- Offer an old game with a new twist, like playing soccer with your hands behind your back or drawing a picture with your non-dominant hand.
- Pick an activity that your kid likes and then offer a new challenge. If they like drawing but tend to stick to what they know, challenge them to draw something they’ve never drawn before. If they’re into music or sports, encourage them to play a new song or try a new skill with the ball.
- Allow for downtime and boredom. The feeling of boredom is actually beneficial for the brain and can be a fruitful time for creativity to flourish or new inventions and skills to emerge!
Benefits of play for children of all ages:
- Builds imagination and creativity
- Encourages cognitive growth
- Reduces stress
- Fosters joy
- Increases self-esteem
- Improves emotional regulation
- Increases resilience and ability to recover from challenges
- Facilitates group interaction
- Encourages independence
- Promotes physical fitness
We can support and foster creativity in our children, no matter their age. While our approach may vary based on their developmental stage, we can meet our kids where they are and support their sense of safety and freedom. See what your child can dream up and create with help from our newest kin, Dragon!