Friday, July 22, 2016

5 Ways We Encourage Creativity

Four is turning out to be such a fun age.  We are having a blast watching Emmie figure out the world around her and navigate it with that little creative spark she's always had.  Every age of childhood has its pros and cons; the creative, whimsical part of this one is my absolute favorite.

Emmie is just naturally just a very clever little girl.  If we did nothing else to inspire it, I feel like she would still find ways to think outside the box for every situation that's thrown at her. But I want her to live up to her absolute fullest potential; I want her to forever think creatively when she faces new and different situations.  So we're doing our absolute best to encourage her inventive personality and hone in on her strengths, even at this young age.  My teacher side says that, even at four years old, we can still begin to lay a foundation for a ingenious, unique personality that will benefit her forever.

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.

Of course, these supplies would depend on the trust level you have with your child...Emmie definitely wouldn't have had open access to crayons a couple of years ago (and my walls thank me for that ;)).  You'd really need to evaluate your child's readiness and willingness to obey the rules.  But I'd recommend having any supplies that help artistic/visual expression thrive readily available.

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.

That's why we love products like L’il Critters™ gummy vitamins for easily establishing healthy habits in Emmie. These vitamins not only taste great but provide essential nutrients to growing and energetic children. They're made with natural fruit flavors and colors derived from fruits, veggies, and plants.

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.

Beyond just verbal positive reinforcement of creativity, we make sure and display visual representations of creativity all over the house.  The playroom has a space where Emmie gets to display her choice of artistic creations.  I also love for her to sing and tell stories in the car, show off exercises and dances she learned at school each night, and even tell me why she chose the clothes she did each day.  I want her to get that I am not only proud, but interested in ways she uses her brain.

Thanks to L’il Critters™for promoting the best creative energy in all of our children since 1998!  In every child, there is a l'il artist, a l'il architect, a l'il inventor...each child has his or her own strength.  L’il Critters™ is giving children the essential nutrients they need to go on to achieve big things!
L’il Critters™Gummy Vites are available at most major retailers, including Target, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, and Costco.  Want more information about L’il Critters™?  Visit their website or Facebook page. You can even print a $1 off coupon at!

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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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