Nurturing Creativity Part 2

By Lacy Shelton
Try not to give children things to play with which only has one type of
outcome. That is the problems with most computer and video games, they only end one way. This leaves the child with nothing to create or add to the game. By giving your children toys and games that can be used in several unique ways encourages different types of play. Remember when you were a child and you played with a cardboard box? That one box could help you to play any number of games, house, spaceship rides, car races, dark caves, and undersea adventures were all available. Giving children toys that can be shaped or molded to fit their current mood or desire allows more creative play.
Children are very aware of the world around them. Incorporate your children into that world. Ask your children to help with normal day to day activities. Allow your child to dress themselves. Try not to force your child into choosing something that “matches” or telling them they can’t wear a pajama top with jeans. Let them express themselves. This may mean allowing your child to go to the store with you wearing shorts and knee high socks, a vest and maybe a ski cap. But remember it doesn’t matter what other people may think! If someone makes a comment to you about your child’s strange appearance say to them “Johnny dressed himself today didn’t you”. This will brighten your child’s day. They can show off their great “work of art” to everyone they see. Choosing their own clothes allows them to access that part of their mind that creates things, it may not be a world with a dragon and moon but it is the beginning of a great imagination. This small step can lead to great adventures.
Time is also very important when encouraging creativity. According to Ann Lewan a director of the Capital Children's Museum in Washington, D.C: 
One ingredient of creativity is open-ended time; children have the capacity to get lost in whatever they're doing in a way that is much harder for an adult. They need the opportunity to follow their natural inclinations, their own particular talents, to go wherever their proclivities lead them. (“The Art of Creativity”)
When allowing a child time to be creative you need to allow them a certain amount of freedom. As a parent hovering around or interrupting can stop the child and frustrate the child. Remember that if you wish to observe or participate try not to interrupt. This means being a follower not a leader which is the role parents usually play with their children. But during creative play the child is in charge. The child must have control of their fantasy world in order for them to enjoy themselves and emerge themselves in the activity. Parents must remember that creative time is about learning and exploring. You may feel that the way the child is playing is wrong, for instance if your children are playing house and they are pretending that there is going to be a baby, but the daddy will be the one who is pregnant. Do not rush in and tell the child they are doing it wrong. There is plenty of time for a child to learn how a baby is truly carried, but they need to explore it for themselves first.
Never forget that creative play can also include reading, writing, and drawing. Children can create their own stories. Older children can actually create their own storybooks. This is wonderful because not only do they enjoy it but you can enjoy it as well. You and your child can sit before bed and read their new book. Creating the book will be a lot of fun if a child is supplied with the right materials. Crayons, markers, glue, and paper are all a child needs to create this new toy. After they begin to draw and color a story will unfold in their mind. Not only will the child design the book, he or she will also write their very own adventure! All that is required is a little bit of imagination.
Without spending hundreds of dollars on video games or toys that say they will “teach children” you can encourage creative learning. Keep in mind that all your child really needs to be creative is their very own imagination. The tools they use to aid in the creative process can be found in your very own home:
Tupperware makes great blocks!
Cardboard boxes
Their own clothes
A few old sheets to build a fort or castle
Even parents old clothes can become useful, dress up is not just for little girls, boys can dress up too, they can become rock stars, train conductors, or even doctors with just a few old scarves and hats!
So when you are encouraging your child to be creative just bear in mind that all they really need is a little bit of time and a little bit of imagination. Oh and maybe some green felt for that dragon!    
Bio for Lacy Shelton
Lacy Shelton is an English Major and a Journalism Minor who currently lives in California. She divides her time between school, free-lance writing, and working for a non-profit organization called Youth Support Association where she has volunteered for the last 9 years. YSA currently works with latchkey children in the High Desert Area in Los Angeles County; they are currently developing a literacy program for school-age children, their website is Lacy also does a fiction work entitled Life Lessons, about a young girl and her battle with Lupus a form of an auto-immune disease that attacks all the body functions. The story is available online at

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 © 2006
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