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5 Simple Ways to Nurture Creativity in Our Children

By Maddie Thiele - Business Development Officer/Teacher at South Yarra and Burnley

Children of Tomorrow – May 2016

“Creativity stands at the centre of educating children who will be the scientists, inventors, artists, musicians, dramatists, innovators, and problem solvers of the future” (Kemple and Nissenberg).

Creativity occurs through play and exploration of the imagination. In Mini Maestros classes, your child will begin to take part in ‘pretend play’ activities starting as young as in our 1-2 year old classes, (e.g. Children are currently flying their Bumblebee cut-outs around along to music and landing on a flower when the music stops), but predominantly from our 2-3 year old classes and up. While our classes are designed to nurture your child’s creativity, we believe it is crucial to try and incorporate particular activities to stimulate creativity into your child’s routine at home as well. Here are some tips from us at Mini Maestros on some of the ways you can set up creative play in the home:

1. Invent scenarios that might stimulate your child’s imagination. Your child might already have some favourite scenarios they like acting out (like Doctors or Zoos). You can draw from real-life familiar scenarios children know (many of our students like to go home and pretend to be the Mini Maestros teacher!) and allow the child to take on a role they like. You can help them to learn more about the environment they have created by asking them questions, like “What does the Doctor take with them when they walk around the hospital?”

2. Explore outside the text of picture books and try storytelling from scratch. It might be part of your daily routine to read picture books with your child. Try to move away from the text of the story every now and then to stop on a page and ask your child questions about what they see in the pictures, and encourage them to assist with the storytelling process. For example, if there is a picture with animals from a farm, point to an animal and ask what it is, what it is doing, what its name might be, what it likes to eat, etc.
You might also like to encourage children to make up their own stories, but they might need some help to get started. Tell your child that they get to make up their own story, but first ask them who the story will be about. Ask them some leading questions to help guide the story along, for example: Is the story about an animal or a person? Is it a boy or a girl? What does the person do when they wake up every morning? What is different about this day? Who does the person meet along the way? How does the story end?

3. Allow your child to make mistakes. If you see your child about to make a mistake, let it happen. They might learn how to rectify their mistake. They might also be exploring what happens in real life versus what happens in stories. For example, if your child says that cows like to eat spaghetti, ask them more questions to see if they can build the scenario in their imagination. Ask them questions like who cooks the spaghetti? Do cows use knives and forks to eat their spaghetti or do they use their hooves or their mouths?

4. Incorporate nonsense! Talk to your child with nonsense words (channel your inner-Dr Seuss!), and use opposites to encourage your child’s sense of humour, and to give them confidence to correct you. For example, point to the ground and tell them it’s the sky (this can be the ultimate comedy for 3 year olds and up!) Use nonsense-words to make up rhymes and to tell stories.

5. Set aside some craft time at your house every now and then to allow children to make something that is visually creative. You can provide structure within the session, like setting a theme or a purpose behind it to stimulate their ideas. For example, decorating a birthday card, making a newspaper hat, making a caterpillar necklace, etc. You can then ask your child questions about their work, for example, why they choose to use certain colours or shapes.

For further reading:

http://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/e-family-news/2014-nurturing-creativity-and-imagination-for-child-development/

http://researchonline.nd.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1078&context=edu_conference

http://www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/nqsplp/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/NQS_PLP_E-Newsletter_No44.pdf

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