Growth and self-expression through play
By Jennifer Sue
Encouraging my kids’ creativity is important as it leads to the growth of new ideas, and the learning of new skills. It also fosters their self-expression and builds self-confidence and provides for plenty of fun activities.
Kids are constantly learning about the world around them and about themselves. Between the ages of 2-6 years old, kids need the freedom to pretend, play, and explore a variety of different ideas and interests—without the limitations of gender norms and the ideas that “trucks are for boys” and “dolls are for girls.” When we limit how children can play, it stifles them and prevents them from gaining important skills and values.
All kids benefit from learning empathy from doll play, hand-eye coordination from painting, or problem solving from pretend play.
Here are three simple ways I encourage creativity in my home. Try them out and see your kids faces and minds light up:
1) Play dress up
Put on different clothes and accessories to let your child be anyone or anything they want to be!
• Mix and match different items together (like a cape, a glittery crown and a science lab coat) to create a new superhero.
• Add accessories such as jewellery, hair clips, or special shoes to transform into royalty or use a magnifying glass and notepad to become detective.
2) Re-create familiar situations
Creativity happens through exploration of the everyday.
• Pretend to be characters from a book and recreate and build on your favourite scene.
• Create a new setting in your house like a tea party on the dining room table or a restaurant in your kitchen.
3) Paint and get messy
Ignite the right side of their brains with some colour and art.
• Paint more than paper or canvas like cardboard boxes, rocks, or your fingernails. We love painting lighting bolts and polka dots on our fingers with non-toxic nail polishes.
• Mix it up by mixing different mediums in one piece (like putting paint, glue, and stickers in one masterpiece).
Above all else, we want our kids to be happy and comfortable sharing what they like. I let my son dress up in tutus and paint his nails. I let my daughter dress up as Spiderman and play with trucks. The less boundaries and freedom children have to explore, the more they’ll learn new things, and be themselves.
Jennifer Sue is a mom to two wonderful kids who founded BE-ME to help change the idea from “that’s just for boys” or “just for girls” to “that’s for everyone.” www.be.me.ca.