I have a few routines that we've integrated into our everyday that have proven absolutely essential for crafting an open, innovative, and fun atmosphere in our home. Here are a few of my favorite tips for integrating that creative foundation into your child's routine!
1. Have lots of crafting supplies available. Emmie constantly has access to many different crafting tools that let her express her artistic side anytime she wants. In addition to crayons, stamps, paper, tape, and stickers, we have a mutual understanding that any paper/cardboard/clean items that would otherwise be thrown away is hers until recycling day. She is always welcome to make different creations with those whenever she'd like.
2. Integrate pretend play into everyday routine. There is such a huge misconception that you have to spend money to spark creativity in a child; so not true. Creative play can be woven into even everyday conversation with a small child. For example, I tell Emmie that we have a "secret mission" when I need her to help with chores. We practice making science experiments or imaginary concoctions when cooking dinner. I even have her make up alternate endings or guess what's happening next when we're reading her favorite books.
Try to turn at least one situation a day into something imaginative and fun! It doesn't have to be anything huge or different; as a matter of fact, I think it sparks creativity even more to weave it into everyday situations. Remember, by modeling a creative spirit now, you're teaching your child to turn their everyday experiences into something special and enjoyable in the future.
3. Make sure children have the fuel they need for creative energy. Did you know that moderately active boys and girls need 1.5 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables a day to fuel activity?* While I know parents strive for this, sometimes it just isn't possible. Busy lifestyles (and yes, sometimes picky eaters) can encourage a lifestyle that might not be as healthy as we'd like for our children.
We make gummy vitamins a daily habit to ensure that Emmie is getting the essential nutrients she needs for creative play. In addition, we strive for healthy eating habits and make sure she gets enough sleep each night...I can tell a massive difference if bedtime is too late, or even if she doesn't have a rest time in the afternoon. Those little bodies are still growing and developing; it takes a lot of rest and fuel to allow them the energy they need for pretend play!
4. Ask questions. As a teacher, I know that asking lots and lots of questions is crucial for developing comprehension and literacy in the classroom. Children must be taught how to reinforce their own learning by reiterating key points over and over.
But questions are also so crucial for challenging your child to think outside the box. It's so easy for a child to fall into a standard way of thinking; constantly question them as to how we can think differently about a situation and they'll begin to learn how to think differently on their own! When your child is finishing homework, ask how they could have solved a problem differently on a few of the questions. Or challenge your child to tell you a story about the picture they just drew. There are so many ways to spin so many different situations. This requires the parent thinking outside of the box too. You'd be surprised how much you're challenged (in a good way!) by growing your child's creativity!
5. Be a cheerleader. I get it; we're all busy. You try to listen to the million stories your child has for you each day, but it's hard, I know. But when you see that your child is excited about a situation or a project, get excited too. You are the biggest cheerleader in your child's life. When they see you are excited about their new idea or new situation, they'll be excited too.
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*SOURCE: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Fruits and Veggies More Matters® April 2016. Available here.
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