My husband and I were just talking about when we were young kids – there were no computers (only in school with the green and black screens when we played Oregon Trail in computer class- lol), no cell phones, and no iPads. We actually had to entertain ourselves as kids and dare we say it…play outside! Wonderful memories!
Technology is awesome don’t get us wrong, but the simpler life of kids playing in the neighborhood and in the back yard is something we want our son to experience as much as possible (of course these days, safety is also a top concern as we are living in different times). As parents we play a big role in encouraging our kids even from a young age to be creative and play.
Here are some tips to encourage creative play in kids:
1. Create an organized, clean play space
The first step to creative play is to have a creative (and organized) play space! Did you know there is a company that will design a custom playroom for your family? They are called Smart Playrooms and the company is run by teachers who are used to organizing a classroom to foster creativity in kids. Teaching kids the importance of cleaning up toys and materials after playing is important, but providing the play space, toys, and materials is an important job of the parent. My favorite thing to create in a play space is a theater/stage with dress up items.
2. Embrace the Chaos
It’s good to let your kid run wild once in a while, make a mess, and play how they want. If they want to use a banana to pretend talking on the phone, that’s okay! If they want to inspect the vacuum cleaner, that’s okay! (I know it’s difficult for us parents who always think of germs and are fearful of things, but we must loosen up and let some things slide.) It’s easy to pick up after your child to keep the area clean but there’s no need to constantly be picking up while kids are still playing. This will give your child the freedom to play as they wish.
Even from a young age we started to see our son’s personality. Here at Fittedtot.com we have a mission and important message for kids:
Teaching kids kindness, encouraging creativity, and helping them be confident through expressive style.
Clothing and accessories is an awesome way for kids to get creative and let their personalities show through and be unique. Finding unique and quality clothing takes a lot of time though so let Fittedtot.com do the shopping for you! Subscribe to our monthly box of clothing curated just for your tot. Use code JUST5 to try your first box for just $5. Take the style quiz here to start.
4. Free-Time is Important
With our busy family schedules, kids’ activities and sports, family outings, and more, we must not forget to schedule in some good ol’ free time! Try to avoid overbooking your family schedule. Free time will give kids a chance to play with what they wish and be imaginative – and this doesn’t mean you leaving them alone to play while you are in the other room. Start-up a game of make believe or other game with your kids and when kids are really young, it’s important for parents to be involved in play and watch over the child.
5. Limit Screen Time
Creative play does not mean playing on the iPad, computer, or cell phone :-) I was shocked to learn that today’s kids spend an average of 7 hours 38 minutes a day in front of screens, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation last year (Frugal Mama)! Kids learn not just by audio and visual, but from moving their bodies and interacting with people and things.
6. Get outside!
The wonders of the world surely will encourage creative play! We walk with our son in the back yard naming things we see, looking up at airplanes that fly by, looking for different birds, chasing after each other, playing hide and seek, and more. Even when our son picks up sticks and pokes things around the yard, this is creative play. Don’t take our word for it – MIT says the same thing: Play—the “ability to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving”—is the number one skill necessary to be able to use technology in the future, according to a recent study by MIT researchers. (Healthy Media Choices)- thanks again, Frugal Mama, for sharing this!
7. Ask open ended questions
Asking open ended questions makes your child think. For example, if your child has a toy train ask, “What sound does a train make? Where will this train travel to today? What does that place look like? What kind of people are on this train today?” This is make believe and creative thinking all in one! Playing with open ended toys is great too. Like a kitchenette play set, dolls, animals, legos, arts and crafts, and other “toys” that the requires the child to brings these to life.
8. Free-Range Parenting
You don’t have to be a “free-range” parent all the time if this is not your preference, but sometimes is a good thing. When our son discovered the kitchen cabinets we added cabinet safety locks to all but one cabinet. This one cabinet had old baby bottles, plastic cups, and lock n lock containers in it. At first when he got in the cupboard and starting putting all the stuff inside onto the kitchen floor, I said, “No,” but then I realized that he was inspecting each item, playing with things, and having fun with his surroundings so we now let him play in this one cupboard. Look, he even climbed inside! Of course safety should always be a priority even if you are a free-range parent. :-)
9. Don’t Always Show Your Child How to Use a Toy
It’s tempting as parents to show our kids how to use a toy to help them learn, but sometimes it’s best for babies and toddlers and even older kids to figure it out on their own. This evokes creative thinking and problem solving.
10. Play Games
Games are the funnest way to encourage creativity from the simplest game of iSpy to more involved board games and more. Designate a family game night where all electronics are turned off and the family is focused on having fun together in a creative way. Games are awesome for sleepovers and play dates too. You can even make up a new game and create the rules with your kids!
Our favorite game – The Name Game! Choose a theme like “places” or something more specific like “cities, states and countries” and the if the first person says, “Argentina” then the next person going clock-wise must name something within the theme that starts with the last letter of the word of the last answer. So in this case, the letter is “a” so an answer could be, “Alabama.” And it's quite funny because now the next person has the letter "a" again.
How do you encourage your kids to play creatively? Let us know in the comments!
Written by Tasha, Marketing Manager at FittedTot.com
Fittedtot brings the boutique shopping experience to you! Just take the online style quiz and your Tot Stylist will hand pick on-trend, adorable, quality clothing for your monthly surprise style box. Keep what you love, send back what you don't. We pay shipping both ways! Click to see why Fittedtot is the favorite trendy clothes subscription box for kids.