Encouraging Creative Thinking in Young Children

“My friend Mary has pink chickens and they lay pink eggs. Can we get pink chickens?” Kyle – aged 4 ¼

Where do our kids get these whacky ideas from and should we be worried that they cannot distinguish the real from the imaginary?

Well, an overly active imagination is actually a completely healthy part of any child’s development. According to experts, children over three know the difference between real and pretend, however, this distinction is not important to them yet. They are not restricted by the boundaries of reality and pretend play is fun. Young children enjoy using their imagination whenever they can, and make-believe scenarios encourage them to think creatively.

Imaginative play helps with cognitive, social and emotional development, it helps children to express themselves, to interact with others, and to gauge other people’s reactions. Role-playing is also extremely beneficial for developing tolerance and empathy, looking at situations from someone else’s perspective.

Early learning and childcare centres often encourage young children to learn through imaginative play. With some state-of-the-art service providers, such as Cherry Bridge Station, basing the majority of their preschool curriculum around hands-on, activity-based learning. Here children can explore and let their imaginations run wild, all while in a safe environment, full of educational resources to call on.

Tricks & Tips for Encouraging Creativity

Get arty-crafty

Art has long been known as a good way of expressing thoughts and emotions. From hand printing to making shapes with modelling clay, all forms of art can help a child to express their creativity. Art is also great for developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Have a sing-song

Rhymes, riddles, and singing along to some fun tunes are great ways of releasing stress, and busting boredom. Such verbal activities help to build vital vocabulary skills and assist with communication and language development.

Get out and about

Not only does time outdoors promote play and physical activity, but it also provides an ever-changing backdrop to creative play. From cloud gazing to paddling pools, sandpits to picnics… the great outdoors has always inspired creative minds.

Get inventive

Roleplay and make-believe scenarios are great for developing confidence and social skills. Join-in and play a character and bring along stuffed toys and sock puppets! Build a cardboard box spaceship! Forget the mundane for a moment and join your child on a magical adventure! Let them make it up as they go along and see where your child’s mind takes you.

Ask away

Asking open questions that invite imaginative and creative thinking is a great way of getting children to express their vision of the world around them. Asking questions also boosts confidence, as your child will know you are interested in their thoughts and opinions.

Turn off screens

(Televisions, computers, tablets, smartphones, game consoles etc.) Although much of the content can be educational, screen time is a passive way of learning. Children who have too much screen time are missing out on physical play and socialising with others.

Turn pages!

Reading time is so important for young children, and so much more than reading words on a page. Enjoy quality time reading together and playing the characters, look at and talk about the pictures and discuss the characters or other options for the ending. Even better, make up a story together and draw your own pictures!

Sometimes kids would rather instigate their own creative playtime activity… so let them! Whatever gets your little one talking, making things, expressing their thoughts, and enjoying these precious early years of play and discovery!