How to raise a creative child

Creativity is core to a child’s development on every level. You can nurture and raise a creative child by using these suggestions from My Smart Kid Counselling Psychologist, Debbie Mynhardt.

Now that they’re getting older, your child will have a longer attention span and will be able to remember specific parts of stories. And, because of their rich imagination, they probably won’t need to see pictures in books any more. Listening to a story without pictures will actually help to grow their imagination and encourage creative thinking. So, ask your youngster questions about the stories you read to them. Find out what they think. It will really help them to understand the key characters and plot.

Your child will be getting even more imaginative when it comes to making their own objects from different kinds of art material and building toys – from clay to blocks. And you’ll often find that their creations have a very real purpose. Ask your child about what they’ve made and give them lots of praise; it’ll encourage them to spend more time being creative. Just keep in mind that asking them how something works may end up making them feel insecure. This might stop them from tackling these kinds of projects in the future. Rather ask them to explain how they would like it to work and encourage their innovative answers.

Crafts and building games are a great way to encourage imagination and creativity. Every parent should have a few art kits tucked away for rainy-day play and a set of blocks provides hours of fun. But remember, imaginative play doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. Buy the basics and an art kit every so often, then supplement with what you have at hand.

Turn your lounge floor into a city scape and get onto your knees and play with your child. Use what’s available to build a town together. You can supplement blocks and Planx with books for buildings and bridges. You can turn cardboard boxes into tunnels. Dolls can become the characters in the story, and cars the transport. Encourage your child to develop a narrative – you’ll be amazed at what your smart kid will come up with.

Make fridge magnets by repurposing those you already have. Use that credit-card-sized magnet from the emergency plumber, you store his number in your phone. You can tear the magnets off those calendars you received at the beginning of the year, that you’ve never looked at since… Paste the non-magnetic side onto paper, and decorate with paints and craft items left over from the last art kit you opened.

You can also start to encourage entrepreneurial thinking: what about helping your child to make little clay pots which they decorate. Ask them what they think people would like to buy? Fill the pots with sweets, plant a herb seedling in each… and sell for a few cents to neighbours.

At this age, your child will probably love making up their own little games, or changing the rules of existing games that they’ve mastered. Of course, although they’re imaginative, these rules often don’t make sense. Play along, it’ll be fun!

“Helping children to think and solve problems creatively is as simple as providing opportunities to paint, draw, invent, explore and play,” says Mynhardt. “Joining in the fun and spending valuable time together has amazing benefits for you and your child alike.”

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