Mozart had it, Marie Curie had it, Steve Jobs had it, and your toddler has it too. So what can you do to foster creativity from a young age?
“Creativity is a characteristic given to all human beings at birth,” said American psychologist Abraham Maslow. Over the years, our DNA plays a large part in shaping our creative ability, but the environment we’re raised in also plays a major role.
For parents, this means there’s plenty you can do at home to get your child’s creative juices flowing. Just remember to dish out lots of praise, whatever the end result, and keep activities open-ended to allow their imagination to roam.
Try experimenting with a few of the following ideas:
- Set up a new activity each day. Perhaps blocks or magnetic tiles one day, a large sketchpad and crayons the next, or some play dough, googly eyes and lolly sticks to make a family.
- Take regular museum trips. Find out what’s on for families and young children. Art Play and Art Safari at Sydney’s MCA, for instance, are designed specifically for the under-fives.
- Have fun with water. A plastic tub of water – with or without bubbles – and a few plastic cups or bath toys are all your toddler needs. Just remember to keep a watchful eye.
- Start a dress-up box. Pick up some colourful clothes, hats and accessories from your local op shop and let your child experiment with her imagination.
- Get creative in the kitchen. Some cookie dough and shape cutters, or a pizza base and an assortment of veggies are all it takes to whip up some edible creations.
- Reinvent your rubbish. Empty toilet rolls, plastic bottles, egg cartons, cardboard boxes and pretty much any packaging can be transformed into interesting artworks.
- Make some music. Whether it’s a second-hand keyboard from a garage sale or a selection of kitchen pans and utensils, give your child the tools to experiment with sound and rhythm.
- Get back to nature. Take a walk in the park and collect a few leaves, petals, ferns or whatever else you find to create a collage. Or make some binoculars out of loo rolls and go bird spotting.
- Stock up on materials. Don’t limit yourself to pens, paints and paper. Soft modelling clay, printed craft tape, pipe cleaners, stickers, rainbow feathers, goggly eyes and glitter can all be used to great effect.
- Create a display wall. Pick one spot in your home where you can showcase your child’s work. Try different interchangeable art frames, and consider transferring some of their favourite creations to canvas.
Try to be a creative role model, too, as this will inspire your child to develop their skills. Talk positively about art, music and other forms of creative expression – as well as your own abilities, even if you can’t draw a stick man to save your life.
Most importantly, keep activities fun and let your child take the lead so they have the freedom to make choices and express their ideas. By doing what you can to nurture your child’s creativity now, you’re helping them to develop what is fast becoming one of the most essential skills for the 21st century.