Creativity is crucial in early childhood development. It doesn’t merely stimulate children’s imagination and curiosity but also supports their optimal development and growth, including physical, social, emotional, and cognitive factors.
It also helps kids improve their communication skills, manage their emotional states (e.g., coping with their feelings and fears), and develop positive views towards change, challenge, and self-initiated learning.
As parents, here’s how to create and set a learning environment to foster your kids’ creativity.
Utilise Free Play
Playtime naturally encourages children. It offers them an opportunity to master their environment, examine a scenario from multiple perspectives, and control experience through their own imaginations. Overall, it helps them develop individual styles of creative expression.
Specifically, kids should engage in creative play. It’s fundamental in improving their physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development, making it an ideal way to develop and boost their basic skills for everyday life.
Creative play can be in the forms of arts and crafts, building, or playing around. Opt for sensory materials to not only stimulate their senses but also spark their imagination. For example, use MyHappyHelpers’ Premium Toddler Climbing Equipment. Climbing helps with their motor processing (voluntary muscular activities) and their bodies’ proprioceptive input (awareness of the body and movement related to joints).
Allow kids to play outside as well. For example, plan outdoor hikes, visit nature centres, go camping in a tent, or take them on a group bike ride, ideally as part of your regular family routine. Note that nature is a powerful and ever-changing tool that encourages children to use their imagination, explore, experiment, discover, and take risks.
Letting children play freely can be hard on parents. Finding the right balance between allowing creativity to emerge naturally and imposing boundaries can be tricky to master. Still, during this stage of childhood, parents shouldn’t discourage kids from exploring new ideas. They must be extra patient and think of the benefits of playing more.
Kids learn best when exploring and discovering the world using their bodies and senses. Doing so lets them express their curiosity and traverse multiple early learning goals simultaneously.
Exploration is crucial for kids’ pivotal developmental stages. Besides creativity, it also benefits kids’ physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development. Kids who tend to explore more show high levels of physical activity, which is good for their health, physical fitness, and motor skills. They’re also found to have a keener sense of self, better critical thinking skills, more sociable, healthier level of independence, more emotionally mature, and more self-confident.
That’s why many childhood care centres focus on activities that encourage exploration. Examples of such activities are music lessons, visiting new places, backyard botany exploration, digging outdoors in the dirt for treasures or indoor scavenger hunts, and playing with fine motor skills toys like wooden blocks, legos, playdough, or threading toys.
Buy Open-Ended Toys
Open-ended toys are playing materials that can be played with in several ways. Unlike close-ended toys like puzzles, they don’t have a clear ending point. As a result, kids have to figure out how to use and play with them, stimulating their imagination, creativity, and problem-solving skills.
Examples of these open-ended toys are blocks, play silks (toys made of silk or silk-like materials), wooden figures, dolls, loose parts, wooden train sets, balls, arts and crafts, play food, trays, doll’s house, bags, baskets and trolleys, and treasure baskets.
Engage in Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts have always been an integral part of early childhood education as they can help children not only foster creativity but also develop many critical life skills. These include fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, critical thinking, confidence and independence, and social skills.
Besides self-expression, arts and crafts can stimulate kids’ senses, especially ages 1-5. Specifically, incorporating art activities with sensory play engages them with new textures, sounds, smells, and situations without any expectations and preconceived notions, allowing them to develop new sensory information naturally.
Allow Them to Join in The Kitchen
Cooking is another way to foster creativity and imagination. For example, kids can express themselves creatively by shaping cookies, designing cakes with frosting/icing, or moulding dishes like sushi or kimbap.
It also improves their cognitive and language development. They can learn how to count, measure, follow a sequence, follow directions, and improve their vocabulary by learning the names of ingredients and kitchen utensils they’re using. The communication required to follow the steps of a certain recipe will benefit their ability to ask questions, express wishes, and voice out disagreement.
Allowing them to do the cooking activities hands-on can develop and improve their fine motor and eye-hand coordination skills and encourage children to be self-directed and independent. For example, let them chop, mix, squeeze, and spread ingredients. However, be sure to leave them with kid-friendly utensils, such as high-quality plastic knives with serrated edges.
Praising children’s creativity is as important as fostering it. However, parents must be careful not to use it in the wrong way. It’s one of the main motives for how children act. They may end up liable for doing things over for the wrong reasons and growing up to be problematic ones. Make sure not to overpraise. Instead, focus on the effort rather than not the person doing it or the result