How do I hone my kid's creativity early in life?

You can teach your child a lot of things as they grow and develop. Creativity, however, is not something that can be learned. It must be nurtured and allowed to grow and develop within each child. Read on for ideas from childcare professionals and seasoned parents on encouraging creativity.

Erin Reeder

Erin Reeder

Erin Reeder is a college history professor, mom of 4 kids (all born in under 5 years)

Praise and recognition

Kids are naturally incredibly creative. I realized this early on when giving my one and two-year-old strawberries. They suddenly started playing a game of "mama strawberry and baby strawberry." Kids are amazing.

Therefore, I see my job as a parent to provide an environment that lets their creative juices flow. I now have four kids (aged 4 to 8 years old), and they are all incredibly creative little people. They put on original theatrical shows for my husband and me, write stories, draw incredible pictures, and engage in pretend play on a daily basis.

Here's what I have found that has helped to create an environment that encourages and supports kids' creativity:

1. Give open-ended resources

Kids' creativity thrives with open-ended play. Instead of organized art projects, my children have constant access to art supplies to draw, craft, and create.

They also have washable face paint and dress-up clothes, which keep them all playing for hours in their make-believe worlds. We've also recently started taking two to three sheets of paper, folding them in half, and stapling the sides to make a blank book that the kids then create. It's been so fun to read their fun stories and see their amazing art.

2. Choose creative play over screens

Along with resources, kids need time to be creative. We find that skipping screen [time] (except for on the weekends) gives kids a chance to get creative.

3. Teach that it's okay to make mistakes

Some kids get really upset when they make a mistake on a drawing or a craft. Teaching them (over and over) that mistakes are part of learning and growing and that everyone makes them helps create an environment where they can take creative risks.

4. Display their creations.

Praise and recognition also go a long way to encouraging creativity. We have an art wall in our kitchen/living area that showcases the latest art from all our kids. They love seeing their art displayed, and it gives them encouragement to keep creating.

Paula Mclaren

Paula Mclaren

Paula Mclaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and has been in the childcare industry as a Norland Nanny since 1982. Since then, her mission has been to help parents become the best they can possibly be and to teach them about the trials and joys of parenting.

Reduce screen time

In this highly tech-driven world, there is very little opportunity to let our minds just be. However, creativity arises out of what many of us, including children, call ‘boredom.’

In order to nurture your child’s creativity, it is important to give them opportunities to explore creative mediums from a young age. Offering them open-ended activities such as drawing, painting, playing musical instruments, and building with blocks early on, is a great way to let your child’s creative spirit thrive.

Allowing children to play uninterrupted and encouraging them from a young age to play independently will also promote creativity, as they then have to rely on their own initiative and creative thought to explore what they are playing with rather than being guided by an adult.

Imaginative or pretend play is another great way to let their creativity and imagination develop. Of course, reading books will stimulate creativity too as they escape into worlds of fantasy and adventure.

Most importantly, reduce screen time and encourage your children to spend time exploring the world around them and the thoughts that it inspires.

Finally, praise any creativity your child shows from the first picture they draw to the short story they write for school. Your enthusiasm and continued encouragement will be key in this world where technology is sitting on our shoulders waiting to take over those creative moments.

Kavin Wadhar

Kavin Wadhar

Kavin Wadhar is a Dad of 2 kids.

Find ways to ask questions

Did you know that the peak age to ask questions is four years old? Young children are naturally curious and always asking about the world. The education system tends to suppress this quite quickly, but as parents, we can keep nurturing curiosity and creativity by asking them all sorts of fun and stimulating questions

  • What would you name a new colour that you just invented?
  • Can you think of ten different things to do with a cup?
  • If aliens exist, what might they look like?

Questions like this are super fun for kids and get them to build creative muscle. If exercised for a few minutes each day, simply through conversation, it can make a big difference in honing creativity. We actually have hundreds of more questions like this in the “KidCoachApp,” which helps parents build not just creativity but all sorts of other “soft” skills like critical thinking, resilience, and leadership also.

Another great way to spark creativity is by talking about pictures. Find any interesting image from Google and have a chat about it. Imagine it was the iconic “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper” black and white image of New York construction men one hundred years ago having their lunch sitting on a suspended girder.

You could ask:

  • What do you see?
  • What could they be eating for lunch?
  • If this was in colour, what would you see?
  • What could be going on to the left/right, outside of the picture?
  • What questions do you have about the picture?
  • What are you wondering right now?

Overall, my advice would be to find ways to ask questions that are very open-ended. This is the key. We want to open up our kids’ minds to infinite possibilities.

Creativity has no right answer!

Whitney Rancourt

Whitney Rancourt

Whitney Rancourt, the mama behind Mama Manages. As a certified teacher (grades K-12) and mom to three little kids under 6, I write what I know: public school and learning at home. I'm trying to raise kids who are growing in character, independence, faith, and brains.

Toys and games with analytical skills and reasoning

All kids have the capacity to be creative in different ways. Babies, toddlers, and older kids all learn best through free play.

To harness and encourage your child's creativity, limit their exposure to toys and games that offer lots of feedback. Typically, this means you want to avoid toys and games with batteries, flashing lights, and sounds. Similarly, toys and games that only offer one model of success can be great for analytical skills and reasoning, but not creativity. For example, board games and puzzles are wonderful family fun and can require critical thinking, but they don't promote creativity because only one possible outcome is desired.

Wooden toys are great for supporting creativity, but so are any sort of plastic building block, Magna-Tiles, train tracks, puppets, and dolls. These toys require the child to do the work of imagining and creating.

Instead of looking up crafts on Pinterest that require an adult's help to create a specific ideal, give your child lots of crafting and desk supplies. Our kindergartener has really grown in her creativity thanks to an endless supply of writing utensils, old cardboard boxes from Amazon deliveries, construction paper, a stapler, brads, masking tape, and other classic office supplies.

While books are wonderful, provide your child with blank books that he or she can write their own stories in.

Also, remember that kids who are physically active also have active minds, so make sure to provide scooters, roller blades, and bicycles if possible.

Keri Baugh

Keri Baugh

Keri Baugh is a wife, mom of three, and a family travel blogger.  She loves to inspire families to enjoy the journey of traveling with kids and to experience destinations, not just visit them. She also loves finding ways to inspire learning about other cultures and countries when not traveling.


One of the best ways we honed our kids' creativity early in life was through experiences, especially travel. At three months old, we took our son on a plane. Thereafter we traveled with him often and regularly.

Not only did having experiences - from Disney to Paris - expand his curiosity and creativity, but his imagination blossomed and has continued [to grow]. As a two-year-old toddler, our son would pretend our couch was his airplane or big truck. He would load empty boxes in the back of the plane/truck (a.k.a. our couch) and travel to places most kids his age weren’t thinking about.

As he draws now, he draws landscapes from our trips. We also bring sketchbooks and colored pencils on every trip for our kids to capture things they see through drawing. [Traveling] fosters creativity in school, art, and writing because the more places he has seen and visited, the more he can imagine. Reading about destinations he has traveled to only furthers his understanding of books and further hones his creativity.

Traveling with kids from an early age is one of the best ways to hone my kids' creativity.

Melissa Brander

Melissa Brander

Melissa Brander is a homeschooling mom of two who runs Pocket Homeschool, a website dedicated to helping parents homeschool with joy and confidence.

Classical music

Honing your kids’ creativity early doesn’t have to be overwhelming or hard! One of the best ways that you can help hone your kids’ creativity is simply by reading to them. Not only will it grow their vocabulary, but it will encourage them to use their imaginations, which will help to grow their creativity.

Another way to grow their creativity is to really think about the activities and toys you are presenting to your children. Is this toy something that has one function? For example, a button you press that does one thing or, is it something that has multiple ways your child can use it? Blocks, for example, can build a castle or a house or a tower. Toys or projects that allow your child many possibilities to use their imaginations encourage them to build that creativity and work their brain.

Lastly, I know many parents like to have the television on in the background for some noise. Why not switch to classical music instead? Classical music has been found to increase creativity in at least one scientific study. Some other times you could listen with your child include at bedtime or while you are driving. These small actions can help encourage creativity in your children without creating a lot of extra work for you.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors are not necessarily affiliated with this website and their statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.

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