Tips for Encouraging Creativity in Your Preschooler
Preschoolers are naturally curious about the world around them. Giving them the time and space to engage in creative activities helps them to experience, experiment and discover new things. In fact, encouraging creativity in your child has many developmental benefits in addition to helping them to learn about the world and their place in it.
The Benefits of Engaging Preschoolers in Creative Activities
Play is hugely important for children - it’s how they learn and make sense of the world. Creative activities can help preschoolers:
Practise and improve fine motor skills (such as holding a paintbrush, or using a pair of scissors)
Practice and improve gross motor skills (such as dancing)
Improve hand eye coordination (such as gluing materials to an object)
Builds vocabulary and memory (such as performing corresponding actions to a nursery rhyme or song)
Practise decision-making, problem solving and critical thinking (for example when engaging in role play/pretend play)
Develop imagination and creativity
Communicate thoughts and ideas
Practise and improve social skills (such as turn taking, listening to others)
Understand and express emotions
The Importance of Limiting Your Child’s Screen Time
There are times when allowing your child, a little screen time can be immensely helpful, like when you are trying to prepare dinner, or have a quick shower. But excessive screen time, whether on a TV, tablet, phone, laptop or some other device can negatively impact the amount of time your child spends engaged in more developmentally beneficial activities. Managing your child’s screen time can encourage them to engage in more creative play to entertain themselves.
Guidelines for screen time can be found in the Australian 24-hour movement guidelines for the early years (birth through to five years) and children and young people (5–17 years) (introduced in 2018). These guidelines were developed from systematic reviews of the evidence about the effects of physical activity, sleep and sedentary time (including screen time) on children’s development, health and wellbeing. For screen time, the guidelines recommend:
no screen time for children younger than two years
no more than one hour per day for children aged 2–5 years1
Tips and Tricks for Encouraging Creative Play
Don’t stress about the mess
Read together and ask you child questions about how the characters might look or feel, or about what might happen next in the story.
Cook together. A simple activity like baking biscuits and decorating them together can provide lots of opportunity for creativity and communication.
Creative play needn’t be costly. You can use things you already have around your home. For example, you can build an awesome fort in the living room using furniture such as your sofa and some bedsheets! Or turn an old cardboard box into a pirate ship, spaceship or house for their dolls or action figures. There are many low-cost recipes online that show you how to make fun art and craft materials such as non-toxic play dough, puff paint, cloud dough, etc, using things you probably already have in your pantry.
Play music and dance.
Allow them the independence to choose what they want to do and how they do it.
Give them opportunities to flex their creative muscles by keeping age-appropriate art and craft materials on low shelves or in a place they can easily access them.
Praising their creative endeavours not only helps to build their confidence, it also provides a great opportunity to express your interest in the things that they like, and is a great way to encourage further communication, problem solving and imagination.
Let go of the idea that things she be done a certain way, for example that they should be colouring inside the lines, or avoiding mixing different playdough colours together!
Encourage pretend play by providing dress up costumes or play sets. Again, these don’t have to be costly. They may enjoy dressing up in your old clothing or playing with costume jewellery. Similarly, plastic cups and bowls can be used for a pretend picnic with your or with their toys.
Remember, your preschooler’s natural curiosity means that they are naturally creative. Try to look for moments in your busy schedule to see the world as they see it – a wonder to be explored! Even the dirty stones they want to stoop to pick up on the way to the shop could be an opportunity to learn, play and create. Have fun with your preschooler, and enjoy this special stage. In their development.
 Anagha Joshi, Trina Hinkley, Too much time on screens?Screen time effects and guidelines for children and young people, Child Family Community Australia, August 2021
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