When I was growing up in the 70s, art supplies were always made available to me at home. I had tons of drawing paper, colored construction paper and crayons. I remember raiding my mom’s stock of paper lunch bags so I could make puppets and put on a show. You should have seen the mess in my bedroom! My desk was always littered with art supplies and the floor was sprinkled with bits of cut paper, colored pencil shavings and crayon wrappers. I was a creative slob, for sure. But I was too busy with my art to clean up – I had things to draw, projects to make, art to get on paper!
Last week I was helping my kindergartner craft a Valentine’s box for school. I helped him cover a cereal box with construction paper and we talked about the design he wanted. He wanted to make his box look like a hotel and have windows that opened to reveal a heart inside. I made the first one and then was called away by one of my other kids. This boy knows his way around scissors and a glue stick, so I left him to complete the project. And he handily did so, making several other hearts and windows himself. He was beaming when he showed me his completed project!
Unlike my cluttered bedroom in the 70s, my kids don’t have a space inside the house for art. The six of us live in a very small home so my kids have a desk in the garage for projects. And I definitely make sure that we have a nice supply of art tools at their use. It’s important to me that my kids stay creative. My creativity is definitely a big part of the fabric of my personality!
Why is It Important to Encourage Creativity in Kids?
Art allows for healthy exploration. Kids can safely experiment with art supplies in a way that results in a satisfying end product. Art allows children to have emotional freedom as a way of expressing personality, thoughts and feelings.
Figure out what kind of creative outlet is best for your child. Does you child enjoy the textile feeling of paint on canvas or chalk on textured paper? Or does your kid like building with LEGOS or K’Nex as their method of creativity? What about photography, writing, modeling clay or sewing? There’s a creative thing for each child and it’s fun to experiment with everything to help them find their niche.
I’m sharing 7 ways you can encourage creativity in your kids.
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1. Encourage Messes (and Reasonable Clean Up!)
A mess is often the result of creative expression. Getting messy is often how kids get deeply into the creative process (think fingerpaint, glitter and glue!) A mess is okay and kids should feel comfortable with getting messy while creating. When hindered by worry about getting messy, children won’t be as creative so make sure they know it’s okay to get a little messy.
Obviously you’ll need to set up an area for messy art making. Use art drop cloth on the floor, washable table coverings, wear old clothing and use easy-to-clean art supplies. If your child loves LEGO building have an area that they can work on projects without having to put everything away each day.
When art time is over, kids should be made clear on the clean up aspect. Kids of all ages should be able to assist with cleaning up their mess. Even a toddler can learn how to swish paintbrushes in clean water to wash off the extra paint.
2. Replace Screens with Art Supplies
There are only so many hours in the day. Would you rather your child’s hours be filled with aimless internet games and TV shows or brain-stimulating creative activities? Limit screen time and encourage art and creativity instead. Consider being a good example as well by setting down your phone and picking up a pencil or paint brush!
3. Dress the Colors of the Rainbow
Allowing your child to choose their own clothing and accessories is a way for them to express creativity! Clothing that is comfortable, colorful and fun allows kids to express their personality in what they wear. Gymboree is encouraging kids to “follow your art” with clothing that is inspired by creativity. These bright and playful springtime outfits have so much style. And the high quality and great price you can always expect from Gymboree. Click through to see what’s on sale and find out how to get free shipping on your Gymboree order.
4. Give them the Artistic Resources
Having the proper tools on hand is essential to the creative process. Go through the supplies you already have and see what your child could use creatively. Bits of fabric, scrapbook paper and ribbon might not look like enough to you, but for a child they could make their own greeting cards with these supplies.
Organize the basics like glue sticks, crayons, colored pencils, scissors and craft paper into storage bins for easy access. Extra items like watercolor paint, gel pens, modeling clay and paint brushes can go into additional bins.
Visit Crayola for special savings on all the best art supplies you need for your crafts!
5. It’s About the Process, Not the End Result
For toddlers and younger children, art is not about the final result. They couldn’t care less if their artwork looks like it went through a tornado – they’re PROUD of it!! And you should be too. For little kids, creativity is about the process. It’s in the touching and textiles. It’s in the fine motor skills of holding a crayon, drawing a line or cutting with scissors. Don’t worry about what their project looks like because your young kids don’t care.
6. Put Art on Display
While your littest ones don’t really care about the end result, you can believe that older kids who put lots of attention into the process want the best results! And that means your attention to what they’ve created. So if they’ve written a poem, painted a picture, or even just glued cotton balls to a piece of construction paper, put that art on display!
Find a clever way to show off your children’s artistic abilities, even if it’s a magnet on the fridge. I love the idea of a clothesline with rotating art work. We had this wire with tiny magnets in my daughter’s room so she could change things out as she wished. Save a few favorites in a bin each year (don’t forget to write the date on it somewhere!)
7. There Are No “Mistakes” in Art
One of the best rules of thumb to keep in mind when encouraging creativity in children – Art doesn’t have MISTAKES. Kids should feel comfortable creating what they feel without repercussion of doing it “wrong”. No helicopter parenting here. Even if you don’t like what your kids are making or you feel like they could be doing it another way, it’s important in this case to hold your tongue. Being creative is UNIQUE. Let your children be creative without your input, offering only encouragement and praise. You’ll see how their creativity will bloom!