Why and How to Encourage Your Child’s Creativity (in the Digital Age)
Times have certainly changed . We don’t see children playing outside or using crayons in a physical coloring book as much as we did 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago. Whether we like it or not, advances in technology have replaced many of those old-school ways of developing our kids’ imaginations.
This does not mean that we should give up on the older methods, but we should try to embrace the new ones at the same time. This can create an acceptable balance so that our kids are still creatively stimulated while not being left behind in the world of technology.
All that being said, there really are some wonderful, educational, and imagination-sparking tools that can help you encourage your child’s creative side. Why should we continue to be concerned about their creativity? And what are those tools? Read on to find out.
The Importance of Creative Stimulation
While it sounds sensible to encourage creativity in kids, it may not always be so obvious why.
The Whole Child is an extended website hosted by PBS.org. This resource is part of a development series based on a textbook with the same title and written by Joanne Hendrick, PhD. The Creativity and Play section discusses this exact topic and is summarized below.
The creative process is important for kids because it:
- Allows them to commit themselves to an effort and make it their own.
- Lets them express themselves and cope with their emotions.
- Helps adults to understand more about what children are feeling or thinking.
- Encourages their problem-solving and creative thinking skills.
- Gives adults a chance to acknowledge the child’s individuality.
For those who agree with these reasons for encouraging the creative process, the next step is to ensure that your child has the tools they need. Again, from The Whole Child:
“It’s important to provide children lots of time to explore materials and pursue their ideas. This includes time to think about how to plan, design, construct, experiment and revise project ideas.”
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) offers views on technology and creativity for school-aged children:
“As digital technologies increasingly become the tools that older children and adults use in their work and home lives, younger children seek to emulate this usage, first through imitation and representational play and then later through mastery of the tools for their own self-expression and learning.”
The NAEYC goes on to offers suggestions such as digital games for subjects like math , science, and reading, exploring different media types on various platforms, and using assistive tools for children with special needs.
You already know that drawing, painting, dancing, singing, and storytelling are all healthy and fun ways for your child to use their imagination and creative mind. So when you are ready to incorporate technology into the mix, it is important to find tools that are safe , effective, and of course, enjoyable.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of sites and apps to help. But, since we cannot include every single option, we do have a nice list to get you started.
It is probably no surprise that the PBS website offers fun games that foster your child’s creativity. The activities are separated into three categories: Sensory Stuff, Ideas & Exploration, and Creativity Challenge. Each one contains a variety of games. You can create a cool kaleidoscope, play a variety of instruments, or cast silly shadows with shapes.
Crayola Kids’ Playzone [No Longer Available]
Who better to offer enjoyable creative games for kids than Crayola? Visit the Kids’ Playzone and choose from a collection of activities. Let your children build a snowman, put on a fireworks display, or make a funny monster. Some games will even let you print the finished picture or print to physically color them.
The Disney LOL section of Disney.com has tons of creative games and activities for kids. The Disney Yourself activity is a fun way for children to dress themselves from head to toe with everything from expressions and hair to hats and clothes.
You can also create sticker books, coloring pages, a scrapbook designer, and an emoji maker. Plus, the large selection of games let your child jump right into their favorite Disney show like Beauty and the Beast or Kim Possible.
If you are unfamiliar with games from Toca Boca, the company offers a huge selection of activities for children on mobile devices. Play with sounds in Toca Band, create a world with block in Toca Builders, design clothes in Toca Tailor, or have fun with food in Toca Kitchen — it’s all possible. Game availability varies for Android, iOS, and Kindle Fire devices.
For preschoolers, Sago Sago offers a variety of cute and entertaining options. Kids can create cool mechanical characters in Robot Party, try costumes on little ones in Babies Dress Up, or travel through the galaxy in Space Explorer. Again, game availability varies for Android and iOS devices.
For a fun mix of physical toys and technology comes Osmo, a game system for iPad. With the hands-on accessories and the iPad apps together, your children get a balanced approach to creativity in one tool. The Creative Set lets you bring drawings to life in Monster, use creative problem-solving in Newton, and transform drawings in Masterpiece.
The Osmo systems may be a bit more expensive that other creative tools for children. However, these are still wonderful options and definitely worth mentioning.
For more game and activity ideas outside of the technological box, take a peek at these websites. They offer creative ideas for indoor as well as outdoor activities:
And if you ever have a question about an app, website, or even movie, book, or video game for your child, check out the Common Sense Media site.
How Do You Encourage Creativity These Days?
The importance of encouraging that creative process will go a long way as your little one grows into an adult. Do you try to incorporate a balance between physical activities and technological ones for your child? If so, what suggestions can you offer to other parents?
Feel free to share your recommendations with us in the comments below!
Image Credits: Pressmaster/Shutterstock