How to help your ​​child's creativity

If you follow me on Instagram you will know that we embrace creativity and crafts in our home. For me, it started when my eldest child was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) some 20 years ago.

I looked into ways where I could connect with her and at the same time to help improve her attention span, self-expression, and to help reduce her anxiety.

Twenty years ago I did not have a computer, so no Pinterest and no YouTube tutorials. I did it the old school way. Libraries and workshops/classes.

I found tools that helped, especially using Montessori methods in our daily life like having open shelves in our home to encourage her to craft, read or play a board game, how to learn to have conversations, teaching her daily life skills and giving her freedom to explore and express herself.

This is where I start talking about creativity. I can go on and on about Montessori and I will in the future on this blog but I have started with it because Montessori has also helped us to get creative. It made us think outside of the box.

I’ve learned many things over the years and now we have the internet at our fingertips. Many years later and 4 children further creativity still is a big part of our life. I’m a gap mom, I now have a 5-year-old. He and his eldest sibling are 20 years apart and that means, I’ve had some practice. These are the ways that I encourage creativity in our home.

Create an environment that will encourage them to be creative.

I know many people who rather have their living area unmarked by children’s toys and personality. And all the peace to you. But your child will only be a child for a short period so why not let them take over your home for awhile? As I once saw in a post on Facebook, you will “only” have 18 summers with them.  So enjoy those 18 summers and plan to redecorate after that. Pin Pin Pin on Pinterest!

Having open bookshelves is a must. children usually don’t tend to look for the things hidden away. I have one very big Kallax bookshelf. The bottom row has boxes to store little toys, a box for music instruments, a box for Duplo, and box for cars and so on. The shelf above that one has age-appropriate books. Then we have educational toys and learning material. The top shelf is for board games. Next, to that bookshelf, we have the arts bookshelf. For this, I used the smaller Kallax shelving unit. On top of it sits a tray with craft articles we use daily (pencils, markers, crayons, glue, tape , scissors and paint bruskhes). On the shelves beneath are boxes with craft paper, paint, play-doh and so one. Our friends know that we love getting craft stuff.

Space is also a resource your kids need. Unless you don’t mind creative messes everywhere, give them a specific place where they can make a mess, like room in your attic for dress-up, a place in the garage for painting, or a corner in your family room for Legos. We are lucky to have a lot space where we live now and my son has a playroom. In the playroom I store his building stuff like lego and playmobil and we have a clothing rack with his impressive amount of dress up-clothes. His friends just love going up there.

Join in

What Monkey sees, monkey does. I tell you, if I just go sit down with some art project, mister 5 years-old will surely join in, I have then successfully lured him away from his iPad.

We’ve heard a lot about attachment, so the concept and importance of bonding with our baby seem obvious. Just because our little one has grown to become a lot bigger, smellier and sassier doesn’t mean your bond and connection is any less vital to their development. In fact, it continues to be of the utmost importance throughout childhood. So go on, get the paint out and make some memories, you might even find out that you have a hidden talent.

Encourage children to read for pleasure and participate in the arts. 

Limit TV and other screen time in order to make room for creative activities like rehearsing a play, learning to draw, reading every book written by a favorite author. Maybe they have after-school art classes in your area. One of our favorite outings is our local library. We just like to collect some books and sit on the coach there and read a little, deciding whether or not we chose the right books to take home. We love the library.

Museums. There’s no shortage of research indicating the benefits of museum visits for children. They can provide memorable, immersive learning experiences, provoke imagination, introduce unknown worlds and subject matter, and offer unique environments for quality time with family. Here in Belgium, we are truly surrounded by many fascinating places like the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium or the Natural Science museum in Brussels , the MAS museum and many many others.

Stop saying “good job!”

Of course you can say positive things about their creativity but we tend to say the same things over and over. “Goodjob” “that’s awesome”.

Try to be honest, look at their project and think about how you can be a help towards their improvement at the same time as being encouraging.

I would sometimes say: “wow, you are getting very good at drawing mommy but I think that I might be missing a few fingers”. 🙂

And please don’t do rewards for creativity. Incentives interfere with the creative process, reducing the quality of their responses and the flexibility of their thought and that would be a shame. Just find a special place to hang it up and give them a great big cuddle.

Let them fail and make mistakes

My son is quite the perfectionist. He has this idea in his head that he wants to execute and when it ends up not being as imagined, he can get very, very upset. When I realize that he is getting frustrated, I just sit next to him and ask him to explain to me what he has in mind or what the problem is.

Yesterday he was trying to draw a dolphin, he couldn’t get the flippers right and he was going to give up and rip the page to pieces. I told him to maybe practice it a few times on the same piece paper and that once he got it the way he wanted, he could take a new sheet of paper. I explained that we all need to practice things, and by not giving up we will usually achieve it. Also, I was there and I was going to help him if he wanted me to. That usually gets him motivated again, knowing that he was alone in front of this endeavor.

Well, he drew a mighty fine dolphin and gifted it to his big sis.

Remind your child it is OK to make mistakes. Encourage them to explore, play around, and make those mistakes. This fosters the love of discovery.

Always have music on in the background

Music, creativity and movement are essential parts of early learning. From singing songs with children to having a variety of music instruments in the open shelves area, it’s important that you create an environment that inspires children to express themselves. 

So I have created a few Spotify lists for our family, like the ABC’s and the 123’s, moving and dancing music, classical, children’s songs and worship. I need to create a work-out playlist and have no idea what songs to choose for that, but it’s been my son’s request lately so we could “work-out” together. We are currently experiencing a heatwave this week, so I will put that on hold until after. Until very much after.

My son loves to hand us instruments to join in on the music and we can get very creative then.

Soo…

I hope I got you all as inspired as I am.

I will share some more suggestions for raising creative children soon and how I’ve integrated Montessori methods into our home.

Meanwhile, if you just want to comment or if you have an idea of what songs to put on our Spotify playlist, please let me know!

My recommended read on the subject of children and education :The Natural Laws of Children by  Celine Alvare