Nurturing Creativity through Play
As parents, caregivers, and teachers, adults have the responsibility to provide children with an environment that fosters creativity and allows it to flourish.
Freedom Grant your child the space to discover, the largesse to make mistakes, and an atmosphere that rewards originality. Provide adequate supervision but intervene only when necessary. It's okay and lots of fun to play along with your child. Just remember you are not the child's entertainer. "I'm bored!" should never be a signal to rush right in. Left to their own devices, children - even small infants - do manage to amuse themselves, often in wonderfully creative ways.
Time For a young child, it's the process, far more than the product that's important. And this creative process takes time and "down" time - time to think, to imagine, to daydream, to mess around, to freely pursue possibilities.
Materials For infants, provide safe and sensory-rich playthings - hanging mobiles, rattles and other manipulatives, musical CD's and toys, and household objects like plastic bowls or empty boxes. For toddlers it's all the busy finger playthings, from stacking blocks to busy boxes, books and other language-rich activities, dolls and first role-playing toys as well as rhythm instruments and basic art supplies, like paint, paper, and clay. Preschoolers need plenty of pretend play paraphernalia, such as puppets, dress-up costumes and props, and are ready for real art equipment such as easels and scissors.
Independence Store your child's creative play stuff in an area that's readily available and independently accessible.
Inspiration In the child's creative play world, adults participate as important role models and provide the primary audience. Sing, tell stories, engage in what-if? games, look, listen, ask open-ended questions, probe, praise and applaud.
Through imaginative play children act out fantasies and in so doing start to develop empathy for others. A child plays 'king' and banishes the 'prince' from the castle, imagining both the king's great power but also how the cast-out prince feels. Whether playing alone or with another, the child has instigated a social interaction. Increasingly child psychologists are seeing an important connection between positive pretend play in early childhood and the ability to get along socially later in life.