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3 Key Ways To Foster Creativity In Your Child

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@ Inara Prusakova - Dreamstime.com

1. Model creativity

We become creative because we see that it is possible. When creativity is modeled for us in our home and we see our parents making things, dreaming things and achieving things, we believe we can be creative too. So, if you wish to help your child grow their creative spirit, first and foremost, be the kind of adult who lives a creative life. Get messy, take risks and make time to pursue your own creative goals. Whether you dream of starting a herb garden, converting your deck, starting a cookery school or painting portraits - make something happen, and dream big.

Be creative alongside your child when it suits your schedule, and when it doesn't, be creative when your child isn't around, too. Let your children hear about your endeavors and see examples of your projects. You're the best example for your child, even more of an example than the art teacher or the after school creative writing teacher, because you're showing your child that creativity can and does happen outside of a day job, a school or an art room.

What's essential is putting your own passions at the forefront of your life. Sometimes this isn't neat and (controversially) sometimes you have to show your child that you are putting your own needs before theirs - this is showing your child that you matter too, your creative needs are as important as theirs are, and that you're going to get those needs met, because doing so doesn't feel like a choice.

Children who grow up in homes where their parents are making things or pursuing passions learn how to replicate this way of life themselves. On the other hand, a child who is shuffled from one after-school class to another by a parent eager to foster their child's creativity (at the expense of their own creative dreams) may grow up feeling sadness for their parents, aware that their childhood dreams were put before those of their own parents.

2. Get away from screens

Some families these days are designating certain hours of the day as screen-free zones, a time when everyone in the house puts down their devices. You can use the time for anything - do a puzzle together, play a board game, read a book, bake a cake, work on individual or group non-screen projects, or just do absolutely nothing.

Giving your child, and yourself, regular time away from a screen can help facilitate creativity as it allows the time and space for every member of the family to find and pursue their own creative outlet. Think too about the weekends; some families are choosing to have a whole weekend day without screens.

3. 'Unschedule' your child

Signing your child up for drama camp, art class and pottery club can't really hurt, of course, but after-school and weekend classes aren't what matters most when it comes to nurturing creativity. What's essential is giving your child the space and freedom to discover and develop his/her own creative passions in unstructured ways.

Of course, if your child is a keen ballerina, then it makes sense to enroll her in a ballet class. Just think about the child who goes to ballet class five days a week, though - she doesn't have the chance to have downtime at home, time where she can explore her creativity in a less structured way. With more time on her hands, she might choose to make up her own ballet routines, write stories about ballerinas, practice dances of her own free will, read about the great ballerinas, even teach her friend ballet - with an over-scheduled life, she misses out on the free time that she could use to develop her creativity in new ways.

I know a nine year old boy who loves to draw comic books any chance he can get. One day, particularly proud of his latest 'published' comic, he told his dad that he wanted to be a comic artist when he grew up. The father, excited by his child's interest, proceeded to sign his child up for a weekend art class. The child disliked the art class because he was being told what to draw, given the materials and then provided with instruction and guidance as he participated in each drawing task. He told his dad that all he wanted was free time to draw in his room, on his own, using his own materials, and to spend time working on developing own comic book series. For this boy, art was a solitary activity, one that relaxed him and one that he didn't require anything of his father other than his support. His dad quickly got the message. Let's liberate our children from the entrapment that can occur as a result of after-school and weekend schedules that don't match a child's creative preferences.

Albert Einstein famously said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." If we believe this, let's give our children time to imagine, play, tinker, ponder and create- creativity will abound!