The Importance of Creativity for Kids
Exposing your kids to creative experiences is essential for your kids’ physical and cognitive development. Creative experiences can help your kids develop fine motor skills, math skills, scientific thinking, communication skills, problem solving skills, and psycho-social awareness and maturation. Creativity is also a wonderful outlet for expression of emotions. Does this sound like overselling the value of creativity? Below are some examples of how creativity can help your kids in the ways described above.
By drawing or coloring, your kids work to develop their fine motor skills inasmuch as they learn to draw the shapes that they want to draw and color within the lines.
In making decorated sugar cookies, your kids can develop math skills. For example, if the cookie dough cut-outs must be 2” apart on the cookie sheet, and the cookie dough cut-outs are 3.5” wide, how many cookies will fit in each row on your cookie sheet?
When your kids use finger paints, they can develop scientific thinking. Specifically, they can learn that green paint can be made by combining blue paint with yellow paint. They can then experiment with other color combinations.
By making snowflakes out of construction paper, your kids can develop communication skills. For example, they can learn to communicate what they want, when they want it, etc. (“I’d like a piece of pink paper, please.” “No, I’m not in a hurry. Can I have it when you have a moment, please?”)
In making snow angels, your kids can learn problem solving skills. For example, “I want to go outside and make a snow angel, but I’m not wearing my snow suit because it’s in the laundry. I can either NOT make a snow angel today, dig my dirty snow suit out of the laundry and wear it again, borrow my sibling’s snow suit which should fit me reasonably well, or risk Mom’s wrath by going outside and making a snow angel while wearing my jeans and sweater only. I don’t want to get in trouble with Mom, so I’ll rule out that last option. I really want to make a snow angel, so I’ll also rule out my first option. I guess I’ll either borrow my sibling’s snow suit or re-wear my dirty one.”
Going back to the construction paper snow flake activity above, your kids can also enhance their psycho-social development. For example, they can learn to communicate their thoughts and feelings in a socially appropriate manner (as provided in the example above) as opposed to something like, “I WANT THAT PAPER NOW! WAAAAAAAHHH!” They can also learn about themselves (i.e., who they are as unique individuals) through their art. For example, are they artsy or more linear? Do they like getting messy or being tidy? These and many other elements of self-discovery can be achieved through creative experience.
Similarly, creative experiences can be wonderful outlets for expressions of emotion. When your kids are upset, they may draw dark images depicting scenes that represent whatever is bothering them. When your kids are happy, they may draw pictures of each member of your family holding hands while standing under a tree on a grassy hill on a beautifully sunny day. If your kids are experiencing emotions that they can’t (or feel they shouldn’t) express, they may be able to express them through their art. To that end, some parents have their kids draw happy faces, sad faces, angry faces, etc. and ask their kids which face they are wearing at the moment.
In sum, it is difficult to oversell the importance of creativity for kids. Not all kids are equally creative, but all kids benefit from creative experience.