Children are naturally curious and creative. We’re all born that way. But over time, those gifts can end up at the back of the closet as we focus on milestones and curriculum and “accomplishment.”

When you think about it, though, those two essential gifts are keys to success in just about everything. The child who peppers you with “why?” as a toddler can grow into an adult who thinks critically, questions sources, and is equipped to make solid judgments. The child whose first utterance upon seeing his baby sister reportedly was “Where are its wheels?” grew up to be Albert Einstein.

Creativity: the foundation for problem-solving

Even if you don’t consider yourself creative, you are. You find ways around obstacles every day. No parent can parent without being creative in one way or another. So, no matter how poorly you think you draw, you can teach your children how to explore their creativity… and help set them up for a wider range of future opportunities.

Here are 3 easy ways to help develop your child’s creativity:

1) Use your children’s unique perspectives as an entry point to a great conversation. Rather than helping your child colour more realistically (“but honey, lions aren’t purple”), try entering their imaginary world and encouraging them to explore it (“wow, I’ve never seen a purple lion! What does he do?”). A child who isn’t “corrected” for their creative vision will be more inclined to experiment in the space between what they see and what they imagine.

2) Let messes happen if they come with experimentation. (Within reason!). If a child is worried that “ruining” something won’t meet with your approval, they may be less inclined to try mixing colours of crayon or paint. Do they want to see what ketchup tastes like with chocolate pudding? Try “let’s mix a spoon of each together and see what we think” rather than “ugh, no, that’s yucky!”. If your child floats an idea that would be dangerous or too wasteful to try, discuss it in a way that celebrates the thinking behind it, deconstructs it to find other ways to test out the child’s idea, and explains why undertaking it the way they suggested it won’t work.

3) Use their favourite stories or movies as a launch pad for creative thinking. Many kids enjoy favourite books and movies over and over again. If you have one of these kids, use the familiar storylines to prompt new adventures for their favourite characters. “What if one day Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin came to Winnipeg, and we saw them in the grocery store together. What do you think would happen next?” Taking beloved characters and imagining new worlds and experiences for them can help develop your child’s abilities to see familiar things in new ways.

At Brightling, our motto is “caring inspires learning,” and that means helping our kiddos explore their world in their own ways. Encouraging children’s creativity is a natural way to show love and demonstrate how we value our children – and is key to building intellectual confidence.