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The 10 Best Ways to Teach Creative Thinking to Kids

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By Scott Winstead

creative thinking

Creativity isn’t necessarily something we’re born with. If you’re a parent, you can actually teach your kids creative thinking and help set them up for success in so many areas of life.

Your child’s creativity exposes them to new ways of solving problems and adapting to new environments. They also get more opportunities to have fun and utilize their time productively.

Creativity is a skill that can be used in many aspects of life.

It can help with problem-solving, communication, and making connections.

Additionally, creative thinking often leads to innovation and new ideas.

It is also associated with better mental health and well-being. In fact, studies show that creative activities like drawing help them overcome distress, anxiety, and other emotional conditions.

The good news is that there are a number of ways to teach kids to be creative.

In the guide below, we’ll go over a number of strategies you can use to teach creative thinking to kids.


The Best Ways to Teach Creativity to Kids

Here are some proven tactics you can use to teach creative thinking to your children.


1. Make Screen Time More Productive

Screen time is pretty much an unavoidable part of raising kids these days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to your advantage.

Rather than just letting your kids do whatever they want on their device, you can have them engage in activities on their tablet, phone, or other device that promote creativity.

HOMER is one of our favorite educational apps out there today, teaching kids everything from reading to math to creative thinking.

With HOMER, kids can explore creativity from multiple angles with plenty of room for imagination and personal expression.

HOMER encourages creativity in a number of ways, including letting kids:

  • Act out scenarios and practice social behaviors
  • Use their imagination to express themselves
  • Use art to communicate and express themselves
  • Explore how things work
  • Conduct experiments to learn cause and effect
  • Develop cognitive flexibility

Click here to try Homer free for 30 days.


2. Initiate Outdoor Activities

Spending time outside the house gives your child a natural environment to improve their creativity. They can explore their curious thoughts and create new things. Your child also gets a chance to make their own rules and play games without space limitations. 

As the child interacts with their surroundings, they develop the urge to mold something out of the available resources like leaves, sticks, and rocks, among others. The more things they see, the broader their imagination grows. You can encourage them to think creatively by pointing out items they may be interested in. 

Encourage your child to play more with the materials they spot outdoors instead of ready-made toys they have been playing with indoors. They can blend their new collection of outdoor items with their toys to develop an all-around creative mind.

Besides playing, you can introduce them to more physical activities such as hiking, excursions, and camping.

Nature drives also expand their creative thinking abilities as they grow conversant with various things.


3. Encourage Open-Ended Conversations

Communicating with children will give you a glimpse of their thoughts. However, closed questions that require a brief yes-no answer may not be enough to exploit their full potential in creative thinking.

When talking to your child, introduce a subject and talk back and forth as you listen to their insights on the issue. You’d be surprised how much information they know about the topic and how many ideas they develop from simple questions.

Initiating question and answer forums is a great way to improve your child’s creativity. Their ideas may not always come as statements but as questions about relatively complex topics they have been trying to decode. The more you interact with your child, the more you learn what they need to explore their optimal thinking capacities and display their creativity.

Instead of rushing to answer their questions, you can reverse it and ask a guiding question that will light a bulb in their minds and lead them to develop a solution independently. 


4. Interact with Your Child

Despite your busy daily schedule, it is important to set time for interacting with your young ones. It’s hard to understand their thinking capabilities if you are never close to them. The best time to start being there for them is from when they are born, but it’s never too late to start at other points in their lives.

If you haven’t been interacting much with your kid, start observing them during play time and learn about their interests. From that point, you can join them for a game or take them out for other fun activities. Study their academic and co-curricular interests to know what triggers their creativity.


5. Give Your Child Free Time

Between school or daycare time, chores, and nap time, create free hours for your child to engage in activities they like.

Buy them the supplies they need to accomplish their creative interests and encourage them to do something constructive during this period. If your child’s interests are in painting, music, and dancing, buy them the materials, instruments, and costumes to actualize this. 

You can engage them in do-it-yourself activities that develop their creative thinking as they work to build the items they need to accomplish these interests.

Introduce creative play to boost their curiosity, watching from a distance to see how far their thinking abilities can take them.

The best way to make this time successful in boosting your child’s creativity is by keeping off their activities and refraining from helping the child unless they ask for your assistance. 


6. Encourage Your Child to Read

Written content in articles, books, comics, and other materials offers a vast source of information from which your child’s creativity can benefit. Teaching kids to read can open their minds to a whole new world and show them new ways of solving problems. You can read to them or let them read to you as you gauge their reading skills and comprehension. 

Daily reading challenges your child to think differently or identify with the characters, imitating a creative thing that happened to them.

Once you complete a page, chapter, book, or the level you had targeted, test what your child understood from the context by asking them to narrate the story in their own words. You can also play a guessing game, drawing items and characters from picture books or discussing new ways they’d approach an issue talked about in the book.

You can also encourage them to narrate original stories or their compositions. Support them and display your interest in their narratives no matter how ridiculous they might sound. You can correct them or guide them where needed.


7. Let Your Child Take Risks

It is the nature of some parents or guardians to feel obligated to protect children against trying new ventures as they may be too difficult or seemingly risky. If the activity doesn’t threaten to hurt your child, let them try it out, even under your close supervision. Creative thinking comes with trial and error, but you can help your child learn to make wise decisions regarding this with a supportive mindset independently.

A creative child is likely to face dilemmas as they wonder whether or not their ideas are viable. For example, your child may be thinking of trying a new dance move using different painting materials from what they are used to, but be doubtful of the outcome. 

If you notice such an issue, it is your duty to encourage them and push them towards their potential. Let your child know you believe in them, and they can manage it. Showing trust in their ideas helps them take risks and try new things, expanding their creativity.


8. Lead by Example

Children are quick to pick up things and learn on the job.

Depending on your line of interest, you may have noticed your child imitating your actions or trying out your outfits. In such a situation, avoid discouraging them or talking them down. This could be your chance to teach the child to think creatively without explaining too many things to them.

You can occasionally take them to work with you and show them how you do things.

Playing pretend will also raise their creative thinking as you engage in games that arouse their decision-making and problem-solving skills.

To gauge their imagination levels, you can open a blank page, screen, or canvas on a different gadget and invite them to sit beside you as you work on your projects. The child is likely to get intimidated to do the same things as you, adding a personal touch that shows how creative they can get.


9. Engage in Step-by-step Activities

Getting ready-made toys, gadgets, costumes, and instruments may be time-saving and easy, but have you considered the benefits of trusting the process? Step-by-step activities help your child appreciate the power of building from scratch and originality. It is also the best strategy to put their creativity to the test as they invent and customize items they intend to use later.

Identify a project they are interested in starting, purchase the required materials or improvise, then begin the process. You can get the information you need from books, tutorials, and other similar projects.


10. Sit and Reflect

After engaging in activities that trigger your child’s creativity, reflect on what’s successful, interesting, and things they’d consider dropping off their list of interests.

Doing this will eliminate irrelevant hobbies and create room for new ones, increasing your child’s chances of getting more creative. Ask for their views on the activity and help them decide on the next step depending on what they feel. 

Creating a relevant list of interests helps your child invest more time in meaningful activities and get the right instruments to strengthen their skills. If the child is too young to know what they want, let them explore different fields as you monitor their strengths and encourage them to remain creative.


Final Thoughts on Encouraging Creative Thinking in Kids

Many people believe that creativity is an innate quality…that either you have it or you don’t. But there’s growing evidence to suggest that creativity is a skill that can be taught.

Encouraging children to explore their creative interests helps them become problem solvers and critical thinkers. These skills are essential for survival alongside their peers or in their adulthood.

By using the tips above, you can help your child develop their creative thinking skills and broaden their imagination to set them up for success now and for the rest of their lives.

Have any other tips to teach creative thinking to kids? Share them with us by leaving a comment below.


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