Creativity and play are the free-flowing forms of self-expression that support childhood development. However, these innovative skills grow only when kids can openly exercise them, like a muscle.
A NASA study found that 98% of 4 and 5-year-olds received a “creative genius” score after taking a specialized creativity test. That number decreased to just 30% when they tested those children again five years later.
You can avoid that sharp decline by nurturing early childhood interests and creativity as a parent or guardian. The key is getting creative yourself. You actively support your child’s cognitive and emotional development when you present opportunities for problem-solving, bringing an idea to life, and self-expression without judgment.
Here are five new ideas to get your thoughts flowing.
- Reimagine a Room
Tap into interior design that combines artistic vision and out-of-the-box thinking. You can choose a space in your home or an entire room needing a refresh. From there, spend a series of weekends reimagining what it could look like with your child’s input.
Start with a vision board that lets your little ones immerse themselves in the possibilities of changing an entire room through a new lens. For example, you may let them choose a new paint color or wallpaper. Don’t worry if a complete renovation is not in the cards. Instead, you reimagine a room with a few throw pillows, rearranged furniture, and wall decor.
- Untap Potential in an Art Class
If you need help with art projects, a new class can switch things up. Several child-centric workshops are available to introduce your kids to trained instructors. A class structure will also surround them with other children who share creative passions in your local community.
Here are a few classes in the Los Angeles area:
- Barnsdall Art Park is where up to 100 visitors gather to create art every Sunday between 10 am and 12 pm. In addition, the venue offers new globally-inspired projects each week, such as building golden headdresses from Thailand.
- Fowler Museum’s Kids in the Courtyard series is a free event one Sunday each month, with kid-friendly projects based on their current exhibitions, like a pop-up bookmaking session.
- Cook Together
Bring the art of cooking into your child’s life with a dedicated day trying out new recipes or asking them to be the “chef’s assistant” in the kitchen. Creating a dish showcases how different ingredients come together into something extraordinary. Let your child choose a new recipe, shop for ingredients, and take their time following step-by-step instructions. Visit sites like Super Healthy Kids and My Fussy Eater for pages of kid-friendly meal ideas.
The cooking process builds essential skills like patience, responsibility, and tapping into the senses. Cooking together can establish a young appreciation for the flavors and textures that food has to nourish an entire family. Your child can feel proud of what they create and experience what it’s like for others to enjoy their work and vision.
- Explore the wonder of outer space
Encourage imaginative thinking with the magic of the solar system. Teach your kids about outer space and the history of the stars they see each night. You can have your star-gazing ritual at home or bring the solar system to life with a more in-depth learning experience.
Places like Griffith Observatory have telescopes and exhibits that are friendly for kids of all ages to explore. Bring hands-on learning into your home with apps like Solar Walk, where kids can explore animated 3D images of the entire solar system. Wherever your child learns about our galaxy is a great way to spark curiosity and expand their horizons.
- Make Your Version of a “Yes Day”
The popular 2021 movie Yes Day is about parents who give their children one day a year where the answer to anything is yes (with a few rules for safety, of course). While that may not be ideal, you can still adapt the concept of letting your child explore new ways to have fun.
For example, set aside a day each month when your kids choose activities they’ve always wanted to try. List a few activities you can plan to embrace their passions. If they don’t know what they’d like to do, offer a few examples, such as visiting the local zoo, learning to ride a bike, or dressing the whole family in whatever outfit combinations they enjoy. Have fun with the process and result while letting their imagination run wild.
Lead by Example
The most impactful lesson is giving your child permission to explore. As you nurture your creativity and new interests, you might discover they can become a new long-term hobby or career path. Watching your little children express themselves freely is equally rewarding. Once you introduce consistent opportunities to be creative, everything else will happen organically.