The experiences that you provide for your child in early life encourage and nurture his creative development. Even as an infant, your child will respond to sights, sounds and movements. Varying colours, sights and sounds will capture your child’s curiosity and motivate him to explore and interact with his environment and the materials and objects within. This is all part of his creative development.
Even as an infant lying prone, he will be fascinated by hanging mobiles and objects within his grasp. Through exploration, your child opens his mind and thinks of new possibilities and ideas. His imagination spirals, giving flight to new ideas, fostering creative development.
As your 18-month-old toddler paints, the choices he makes in terms of colours, the movements and strokes of his brush are all part of creative expression. They go beyond the product which is the painting.
The dough he pounds, pulls and shapes offers him another opportunity to think, problem solve and discover new ways of working the material. The music that you provide for your child to listen and move to encourages self-expression. Sound foundations are built as you provide opportunities and encourage your child to explore, discover and make choices.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Make a collage. Collect household items like pieces of fabric, a scouring pad, aluminium foil and even objects from nature such as shells, leaves and twigs. Create a collage with your child by putting these different items together to form an artwork. Let your child lead. In doing so, your child feels empowered to experiment and express creatively.
Go on field trips. Take frequent field trips with your child to the supermarket, museums and parks. Explore familiar and new places. Point your child to interesting details but also follow her cues to things that catch her attention. Observing and talking about real-life objects, things and events stimulate your child's imagination and creativity. The variety of experiences will widen her horizon and exposure.
Give time and space. Encourage creative play such as drawing, painting, pasting, building and modelling in your home. The creative process needs time and space. Creative activities help your child to develop intellectually, physically and socially. Don't rush your child while she is engaged with an object or activity. If you have the space, allow her to leave the unfinished work aside so that she can return to it after a break.
Make up stories. Stimulate your child’s imagination and creativity by making up stories. Use the toys at home as props. With a toy cat, for instance, you can start off with “Once upon a time, there was Tom the cat. One day, Tom decided to go for a walk”. Improvise the story plot and encourage your child to participate by asking him how the character was feeling or who did the character meet. This develops your child’s imagination while increasing his vocabulary.
Find the ways... This game is simple but it will stimulate your toddler’s thinking and creativity. Give her a scarf and ask how many different ways it can be used. If your child is unsure, offer suggestions such as “I can use a scarf as a towel to dry myself” or “we can use it to dance”. Try doing this with different objects. There is no right or wrong answer, your child’s imagination is the limit.
Conduct a kitchen symphony. Turn over pots, pans and pails. Arm your child with a spoon or a chopstick and watch as he beats out a rhythm or two. Don’t be inhibited. Join in! Talk about the different kinds of sounds different materials make. For example, a metal spoon will create a higher pitch whereas a wooden spoon will make a duller tone. Experimenting with different sounds can promote your child’s auditory awareness.
Create infinite possibilities. Provide open-ended toys such as building blocks, tissue boxes, toy animals and vehicles. Guide your child to use and play with them in a variety of ways. Through the play, your child can learn to explore, experiment, build story plots, negotiate and problem-solve along the way.
Have fun with dough. A rolling pin, a fork, cookie cutters and a lump of dough can provide endless moments of creative expression for your child as she pounds, stretches and moulds.
Make music makers. Fill empty plastic bottles with different dried substances such as rice, peas, sand and pebbles and seal them to make homemade percussion instruments. Shake these to the beat as you sing songs together.
Guess the animal. Take turns to act out different animals (e.g. a monkey) or things in nature (e.g. a tree) while the other guesses.
Follow the leader. You and your child to take turns to be the leader. Make creative movements for your child to follow. Encourage him to take the lead while you follow.
Get creative. Play some music and encourage your child to move and dance to it with you. Provide scarves and crepe ribbons for your child to dance with.
Play dress-up. Provide dress-up props like hats, caps, shirts, scarves, sunglasses and bags. These offer your child endless moments of imaginative and creative play. Throw in pots and pans, and even a doll. Watch your child’s creativity unfold as she pretends to be chef or an executive - or anything she wants!
Have an Art Attack. Provide thick crayons, markers, large-sized paper, paint brushes and pots of paint for your child to create with. Don’t worry about the mess. It can be cleaned up.