Are you sick of hearing “I’m bored” yet?
Even though students and teachers alike enjoy the break, many parents have legitimate concerns that children lose too much time and may actually go backwards in their educational progress during the summer months. It is important to remember that learning experiences don’t just come from the classroom. Children also need time to play and freely explore the world around them. Children who are encouraged to use their imaginations are often more engaged in learning, are better problem solvers, and typically have better reading and writing skills. Fortunately for parents, there are many ways to inspire children to use their imaginations. Create a summer full of fun using one or all of the suggestions below.
1) Unplug – The best way to inspire creativity in your child? Have them “unplug” from technology and put away the tablets, smartphones, and computers. Every now and then it is ok to give your child the opportunity to be bored. Boredom often inspires creativity out of necessity. And most of the time your child will learn to entertain themselves without video games and instant messenger. In fact they may even be grateful that you encouraged them to do something different.
2) Make Art – It’s a fact. Artists are creative people. They see the beauty in everything around them. Creating art is a wonderful way to express yourself. Assemble an inexpensive “bucket” of art supplies for your little artist to enjoy. First take inventory of the supplies that you already own and purchase any additional supplies as necessary. Remember almost anything can be art so don’t be afraid to throw in things other than crayons and paper. Items like plastic containers, ribbons, and natural items like leaves are great for art projects as long as they are age appropriate. If you are able to splurge, learn a new technique by treating your child to a special art project at a craft studio such as Meltdown in Westminster.
3) Write Stories – Writers are known as some of the most creative people all over the world. And rightfully so since their primary goal is often to create entire worlds in which our minds can escape. Through the use of words, writers are able to create vivid images and introduce us to new thoughts and new perspectives. Encourage your child to put their verbal skills to use and create a fiction story about their favorite planet or a non-fiction story such as an autobiography. Create a booklet using folded paper stapled at the edge (spine). Have them write out their story and create their own illustrations using colored pencils or markers. Not only does writing encourage creative thinking but it also reinforces writing skills that may be lost in younger children over the summer break. For inspiration visit the local library or bookstore.
4) Put On A Show – One of my favorite things to do as a child was to put on “shows” with my family and friends. However back in those days we were using cassette tapes and not ultra-high definition video recorders. While times have changed, one thing is for certain, using your imagination (and intelligence) to write a script, prepare a set and costumes, and act out a play or web show is the very definition of creativity. Your show can be funny and include skits like Saturday Night Live or if your child is interested in science fiction have them create a show about a trip to outer space. If your child has a serious interest in seeing a live show or even performing in one check out the Reisterstown Theatre Project or the Carroll County Arts Council’s Children’s Theatre Troupe.
5) Get Back to Nature – Getting outside is a great way to spark your child’s imagination. The simple act of observing your surroundings in a natural setting can promote creativity. In addition, children who regularly spend time outside tend be more well-adjusted and have a lower likelihood of developing childhood obesity. Take the family for a hike or bike ride at a local park. Challenge your children to create something that reminds them of their time outdoors such as a necklace made from vines and flowers or a painting of animals that you saw along the way.
6) Build A Fort – It is truly amazing what a child can do with a few blankets, boxes, and some tape or string. Building and playing in a fort is incredibly fun (some adults even enjoy them). They can be built indoors or outdoors and are a cheap way to entertain kids since they can be made using materials you have around the house. Forts are also great because they can be anything to anyone, a rocket ship, a house, or even just a fun place to read or sleep.
7) Something New – Let your child’s imagination run wild by learning about a new place or new things. Regularly exposing children to new experiences can be a great catalyst for creativity. The excitement of new experiences helps to keep children engaged and ignites their creative side.
Creativity teaches children that the possibilities in life are endless. It is important for children to know that they are only bound by their own imagination. If they can dream it, they can do it 🙂