By Susan Stump
"Where did he come up with that?" Kids often amaze us with their imaginative ideas, and we should give ourselves a pat on the back for playing a role in this development. Innovative thinking is essential for success in school and in life, and itís our job as parents to nurture our kidsí innate desire to be creative. Inventive play fosters original thinking, an asset when children are confronted with new situations. By providing activities that use their creativity and imaginations, we are giving our children an important tool to deal with life down the road.
Give them ideas.
Children come up with things to do on their own, but we also need to provide them with new ideas of interesting activities. Think back to what you did as a kid. Did you write a diary, create elaborate puppet shows, or sing and dance for relatives? Share ideas from your own childhood experiences. Offer creative writing ideas like writing an episode for a favorite television show or writing a new ending to a favorite story. Craft projects offer another outlet for inspiring imaginations. Craft kits, especially those from Curiosity Kits and ALEX, offer a wide variety of unusual and fun projects. Theyíve brought us a long way from the sock puppets of our youth. These manufacturers offer ideas and supplies to make such things as scrapbooks, powerballs, soaps, candy, sun catchers, dolls, planes, dinosaurs, jewelry treasures, and lots of decorative items. Kids can gather ideas from the instructions, and then give the projects their own unique touches.
Keep ideas fresh.
Pick up any parenting magazine and youíll find lots of ideas to get those creative juices flowing in your kids. Search the web and check out craft stores. Keep a journal or file for magazine clippings and ideas as you find them. Stockpile so that youíll know how to answer the whiny "Iím bored" call from your kids.
Give them freedom.
Once youíve given your kids some suggestions and supplies, step back and see which they choose and where they go with them. This unstructured play time gives kids an opportunity to stretch their creative muscles. Watch as they incorporate your ideas and branch out on their own.
Set an example.
Chances are, if you are a creative person, your child will be too. You display creativity in your everyday activities like when you reason with a disgruntled child, change lyrics to songs, and maybe even do some interpretive dancing to entertain a toddler. Your children see your silliness and it rubs off on them. You surely use creativity to juggle your and your familyís schedules. Itís a great idea to point out to your kids how you use creativity in your daily life.
As parents, we always try to do the very best for our kids and provide opportunities that will help them mature into intelligent, capable adults. Nurturing their creative spirits helps them along this road. With their well-developed imaginations, maybe theyíll turn it into a yellow brick, pink polka-dotted road with sparkles!
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