Boosting creativity in your kids

Among the many things I want for my children – health, happiness, education, good manners – is for them to develop a strong connection to their inner and individual creativity. Like a Renaissance-inspired, but modern and overscheduled mom, I’m constantly chasing that balance between keeping up with three busy kids and protecting their sacred, creative downtime.

We all know how revitalizing creative pursuits can be. For kids, there is plenty of evidence and research out there to support the importance of making time to boost their creativity: from feeling more calm and expressive, to better behaviour and academic performance.

When my children were toddlers, it seemed to come naturally. Be it dress up, finger painting, playdough moulding, or just stacking blocks up like mini castles and fortresses, we had the time and the materials to let their creativity flourish everyday.

Now that they’re all in school full-time, and our afternoons and evenings are spent with more structured activities and homework, there is much less time for that creative, free-play zone.

So here’s some of the ways our family keeps creativity alive, even when both time and money are in short supply.

Creative Camps

Art, drama, music, writing, even computer coding – there are plenty of creativity boosting classes and summer camps on offer to suit any kids’ age and personal tastes. Check out your local museums, galleries, community centres and libraries for creative activities for kids that won’t break the bank.

Stock up on Supplies

Whether it’s an Etch a Sketch, a drawing App on your tablet, or a pad of blank paper and some crayons, having creativity-boosting supplies on hand makes artistic expression easy when inspiration strikes. I like to leave these kinds of supplies near my kids’ seats in the car, and out on the table on weekends and throughout the summer – no kid can walk by a handful of sparkles, scissors, glue and some crisp paper or fabric scraps without stopping to play.

For a less messy activity, check out creativity-boosting games like Charades, Pictionary and those magnetic poetry kits for some fun, creative time the whole family can enjoy.

Look for Inspiration

A family trip to a local art gallery, tickets to a community theatre play, or a free concert in the park can provide your budding artist with some new inspiration. There are also plenty of YouTube channels made for, or by, kids that are great for boosting creativity through entertaining shows and tutorials. And your local library will have an equally impressive collection of books to borrow on creative ideas and activities for any age.

In the kitchen

Creativity can bloom in the kitchen too – let your little maestro plan and prepare a meal with you, or invent a recipe of their own! Cake and cookie decorating is made for creativity, but even figuring out a new smoothie recipe or ways to combine chocolate and peanut butter into “healthy” foods can be a fun and delicious creative exercise.

Go wild outside

Most of us remember the sheer delight of playing outside – and largely unsupervised – as kids ourselves. Although much less common now, there’s still plenty of good reason to create a little wild time outside for our kids to boost their creative playtime.

Puddles, sticks, dirt, sand and rocks are just about all kids need to spend hours of joyful time letting their imaginations take over, unplugged and outside.

So whether you’re taking them camping, hiking, walking in the woods or over to the neighbourhood playground, giving them the opportunity for free, unstructured play under your distant but watchful eye will allow them to have fun and express their creativity the way kids do it best – resourcefully, inventively and on their own.

Carmen Kinniburgh

Carmen Kinniburgh is a freelance writer and editor exploring topics and ideas about parenting and families, Canadian science and research, health and medicine, as well as travel and lifestyle. Born and raised in Alberta, Carmen has also lived in Southern Ontario and Manitoba, where she worked in professional communications for a university and a national health charity. Currently living in Thunder Bay, Ontario, she gets all her best ideas and insights for Parentwise from her own three delightfully precocious children.

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