Parenting with Joanne
To foster creativity in a child, essentially means to allow many opportunities for the freedom of thought in his life. Creativity, in the world today, is not merely a form of expression, but a competency that makes one ‘stand out’ in a crowd. The world, as we know it today is increasingly seeking out people with unique attributes and ideas. Thus, we as parents, need to make a special effort to instill, foster and develop creativity in our young children. Let’s take a look at some practical and simple everyday ways in which this can be done.
- Minimize ‘fancy’ toys
Shopping for toys has now become a mind blowing experience. The variety of toys available makes it almost impossible for a parent to make easy choices about what toys they want for their children. However, we need to give some thought to the idea that simpler toys allow more room for a child’s imagination while playing than the toys that have the ‘glitz and glamour’ that commonly accompanies most toys today.
Consider choosing toys that are no doubt fun but also instruments for creative thinking while children are at play. This is probably one of the most basic ways to allow children to use their own imagination to a maximum while enjoying play time with peers, siblings or even independently.
- Read fiction
Reading stories to your child on a regular basis, is and has always been, one important way to help expand his thinking. As children grow older, it is important that you try and limit the use of books with many pictures. Instead, choose books with minimum illustrations, which will again fulfill the purpose of your child using his own imagination to make the characters, settings and events come alive in his mind while he reads.
- Use everyday things for art and craft
Art and craft is a wonderful way of sparking off creativity. In it too, the use of waste material, and every day household items, makes the process of creating art all the more fun. Children, then begin to see every day things in a different light.
- Build or create new toys or products together
Use existing toys to create new toys with varying functions and purposes. Encourage older children to create a product that is not in the market at the moment. Create opportunities for them to use their imagination and their rationale to come up with new items that can be of use to people. Remember, that the goal isn’t to create a perfect item, but to encourage their young minds to explore ideas on a higher level.
- Talk about new creations
Once your child creates a new toy or a new item using material that’s available to him, talk about the creation with him. Ponder together, on what makes his item unique, its functions and purposes. Remember, at this point to have very meaningful conversations with your child, intended not merely to encourage his efforts, but also to help him evaluate his own work of art.
- Encourage pretend play
Let your child explore novel situations and characters through means of pretend play. Taking varying roles during role play and creating characters of his own, are ways for him to explore ideas in his head that can help him in his world of imagination, much more than we care to realize.
- Encourage ‘What if?’ questions
When you sit down to read to your child, or when it’s time for homework, try not to stick to what is given within the pages of a book alone. Instead, introduce questions with ‘What if?’ that would in turn encourage your child to think ‘out of the box’ and respond to situations. For instance, in the famous fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast, you could ask your child ‘What if Beauty never had never returned?’
- Cut down on ‘gadget’and television time
This, I know, is much easier said than done. With technology having taken such an intimate part of our everyday life, it is a huge challenge to curtail the amount of time our children spend on phones, ipads, iphones etc. However, it is a challenge worth taking on.
While certain television programs and apps on phones can be really interesting and can encourage good family time, not all the content in these material are praiseworthy. The time spent aimlessly staring at a screen can actually serve to dull young minds from using their own imagination.
Joanne Sathyadass has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Journalism, Psychology and English Literature from the University of Bangalore now serving as a Special Needs Educator
For any queries please email Joanne on firstname.lastname@example.org