Creativity among children is so important, and as a parent, you should cultivate your child’s imagination. Unfortunately, many schools across the United States have removed their arts and music programs in an effort to trim budgets. After all, since 2018, 80% of schools across the country have experienced budget cuts. Case in point: between 1999-2000, 20% of schools had theater and dance classes, and 87% of schools offered their students visual arts classes. Fast forward to 2009-2010, and 3% had dance classes while 4% had theatre.
If you notice your child has an inclination towards the arts, it’s important for you to take their progression a step further and allow them to explore it—especially when creative arts is lacking in their education. When you encourage your children to be creative, they’ll benefit from your support and will learn discipline when it comes to practicing something they enjoy. Here are tips for fostering your children’s creative side:
Encourage & Support Them
Fostering creativity begins with verbal support and encouragement. Let your child know that you’re proud of the hobbies they’re interested in and the work they do in class and independently. Simply saying “I’m proud” can go a long way—not just towards your child’s willingness to continue on their creative path, but for long-term development. It’s also necessary to back your words up with action where applicable. For example, you might sign them up for local classes or help them with their creative endeavors when they need it.
Let Them Show Off Their Work
No matter what art your child is involved in, highlight it in the best way you can. If they enjoy dance, chances are they’ll have a dance recital to showcase what they’ve learned. In this case, invite friends and family. Some disciplines require a little more creativity to highlight, however. For instance, if they enjoy painting, you can help them turn their work into tee shirt designs with sublimation ink—you can even help them sell their products, too. Additionally, consider having their artwork professionally framed and hung around the house.
Give Them the Resources They Need
No matter what type of creative hobbies your children are interested in, they’ll need the resources for it. If they like to draw, they’ll need a sketchbook and colored pencils; if they enjoy theatre, they’ll need access to and from theatre classes; if they are happy writing, they’ll need notebooks and inspiration from other reading materials; and if crafting is their specialty, they’ll need popsicle sticks, glue, and various other materials to build their creations.
Whenever someone asks what type of gifts to get for your child, steer them in the right direction when it comes to the materials they need to hone their craft. Space is also considered a resource—your children need a dedicated area where they can practice or get a little messy, whether it’s the basement, playroom, or a corner of their room.
Give Them Freedom
Creative work requires freedom in order for children to truly express their thoughts and imagination. For instance, if you notice them doing something artistic that doesn’t fall within convention art norms (like drawing outside the lines), refrain from pushing them into those rules.
With this in mind, it’s equally important not to be concerned as a parent if your child is more inclined towards the arts than maths and sciences. Statistically speaking, this will not affect your child’s long-term ability to get into a great college. If you force their art in one direction, it could hinder their flexibility and creativity—and even make them feel stifled regarding their own ability to complete things.
Refrain From Rewards
As a parent, naturally you’ll feel happy when your child completes an artistic work of some kind. But as previously mentioned, it’s best to showcase this work than to reward it. Otherwise, it might inadvertently encourage them to participate in artistic activities in hope for a reward. When you interfere with the creative process with incentives, you remove intrinsic motivation. In addition to showcasing their work, you could also “reward” them with a greater level of access to their discipline; for example, allowing them to stay up an extra 30 minutes to paint or buying them a new set of paintbrushes to further refine their skills.