“How can I help my child be more creative?”
That’s a question I am frequently asked because I’m a children’s book author who occasionally teaches creative writing workshops for youngsters in third through seventh grades. Becoming more creative takes exercise. As storyteller Ethel Barrett once wrote, “Productive, imaginative thinking is strengthened by exercise, just as muscles are.”
I recommend the following exercises:
Read Aloud to Your Child
Fables and folktales for pearls of wisdom, biographies for inspiration, poetry for beauty and rhythm, fiction to develop empathy and expand the imagination, the Bible for truth and hope.
I have fond memories of reading to my children, even when they were in their teens. We enjoyed the entire series by Brian Jacques’ Redwall books with my teenagers sprawled across the couch with bowls of popcorn, listening intently to the tales. Now I enjoy reading to my grandchildren.
Foster Creative Benevolence
This not only exercises the imagination: helps your child make the world a better place. Collect items such as school supplies and mittens for youngsters living in a homeless shelter, fill Christmas stockings for residents of nursing homes or veterans’ hospitals, take dog biscuits and cat toys to the animal shelter.
In Galatians 6:9, Paul admonishes, “Let us not grow weary of doing good…”
Have you taken your child to an art museum? A candy factory? A wildlife refuge? Have they ever eaten mango pudding at an East Indian restaurant or signed up for a fencing class? Our world is a wonderful and exciting place to explore.
Maintain Your Own Childlike Sense of Wonder
Children learn from what is taught and what is caught in the home. If you take time to turn off the television in favor of lying on a blanket in the backyard to gaze at the stars, they will too. If you build a birdhouse or two, they’ll want to help. If you suggest finger painting with chocolate pudding, they’ll happily comply.
In her book, Walking on Water, award-winning author Madeline L’Engle laments that too many children and adults become corrupted by conformity. She writes: “It’s an indictment of our culture that so many children lose their creativity, their unfettered imaginations as they grow older.” Take away those electronic gadgets, get up from the computer, turn off the television. Go outside and collect pinecones instead. Visit a greenhouse and let your child buy a plant. Go to a bug museum.
Clip funny cartoons and stick them in our youngster’s lunch box. Mismatch all their socks and blame it on their favorite stuffed animal. Play silly games together. Pull harmless pranks. One Saturday morning, my youngsters and I put our clothes on inside out before showing up at the breakfast table. We waited with giggling anticipation to see how long it would take before their dad noticed. Proverbs says “a cheerful heart is good medicine.” It will keep creative juices flowing too.
Shirley Raye Redmond is a newspaper columnist and the author of award-winning books for children, including Patriots in Petticoats: Heroines of the American Revolution and Courageous World Changers: 50 True Stories of Daring Woman of God. She is also a part-time instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature, a sought-after workshop speaker, and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Shirley’s latest book is Courageous and Bold Bible Heroes. This colorful book introduces children to 50 ordinary men and women who God gifted with extraordinary courage to accomplish incredible things. Each chapter profiles a different Bible hero and shows how they overcame seemingly impossible challenges.