Advice from Canpol's experienced mothers.
When I was pregnant, I was thinking about how I would like to bring my baby up. How I would like him to behave, what features to have. It resulted in 5 features, about which I thought most often: independent, disciplined, friendly, emphatic and creative. And that last one intrigued me the most, as how can you bring up a creative child? Is there a subject like that at kindergarten or school? No, not yet, at least not in Poland. I started to look for optional activities for babies, read newspapers, watch programmes and ask instructors at classes developing creativity in children. Below I listed the conclusions from my research.
1. Let the child imagine and fantasise. Imagining things is a natural activity, which "takes first steps" (starts to develop) in children from 1 to 3 years of age. Your task is not to deny whatever your child says or makes up. Do not mock it, even if you think it ridiculous. Let your child fantasise. Why? What is a role of imagination in stimulating the creativity? People with rich imagination use it for unconventional problem solving. By combining knowledge, experience and imagination new and astonishing solutions are created. During childhood imagination helps to invent , e.g. new games. Your child will not be whining there is nothing interesting to be done. Even when the tot is on his own (is an only child or his siblings are much younger), he will always find a way to enjoy himself. Imagination helps the child to see in his mind what he will later, e.g., build or draw.
2. Let the child to have an imaginary friend. This part is connected to the previous one, as it is the children with rich imagination who have imaginary friends. Why should you allow that? Is it really good for your child? The "invisible" friend helps your child to develop not only his creativity but also language. The child talks a lot with his "friend" and then passes all the news to his parents.
3. Let him do nothing, i.e. do not try to fill every moment with activities or tasks. Such moment is a time for development of creativity in the child. It is the time when the child does not have to do anything. When he has time to feel free and relaxed, then he begins to think, he does not limit himself in finding ways to enjoy himself. As I have written earlier, the child can invent his own games. Such games do not necessarily have to resemble any game you know. It may be something new, going beyond previous schemes. What can you do in such situation? Accept those games the child invents (provided, of course, they do not pose a risk to his safety). Encourage to experiment, when you see the child seeks new ways to use a toy. Do not show him a correct way immediately. Allow him to try and discover some things on his own. Maybe your child will surprise you with a new way or game?
4. Let the child do certain things his own way. When you play together, let him do various things the way he can do them. Following the child around and saying "this is wrong", "it is incorrect" makes no sense. By rebuking you will only discourage the child from new attempts. When he draws something, let him draw whatever he wants, do not choose a subject or colours for him. The same rule applies to sculpting or cutting out things. Do not dictate to the child what he should do. If he can choose a toy he wants to play with, do not force on him another one. Let him use his own methods, ideas and solutions. Do not do things in his stead, it is better the child glues something onto a paper clumsily rather than you do it for him. Of course, you can propose toys or plays to the child, but do not force them on him; if he does not want to play with it, simply give it up. Try again some other time.
6. Do not bury the child under lots of toys. Birthdays, Christmas, and the room is filled with toys that the child does not even touch. Sometimes it does not make any sense to spend loads of money on expensive toys, when you can develop creativity with what you have at home. Together with the child you can make a toy from whatever you have at hand. You can use toys that are already there at home. For most games engaging the imagination you do not really need gadgets from a shop. Theatre game? Let the toys be actors, and the scene can be made of chairs and a blanket. Organising an orchestra? Use pots and saucepans to make instruments. Finding new uses for old things develops creativity and evokes positive emotions.
At the end of my search I thought it was not so difficult after all. Many of those rules I planned to apply anyway. Some tips helped me to look at upbringing from a different angle. I hope the things I wrote will also make it an interesting experience for you.
Mum of 5 year old Daria and 2 year old Lenka, 16 years of professional experience