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Nurturing the Creative Child Through Exploration and Improvisation

Updated on October 14, 2017
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A Special Education professional, behavior coach, writer, freelancer and most importantly a mother making life simple and fab as possible.

Nurture the creative spirit of the child through explorations and improvisations.

On the photo is an artwork my daughter made with pieces she found around the house. She went rushing in to call me and drag me outside. She even asked me to lose my eyes. She said she has a surprise for me. I obliged. She asked me to open my eyes and said; "Ta-dah!!!" Her mixed-media art at age five.


My daughter's mixed-media art at age five.
My daughter's mixed-media art at age five.

In my years of working with children and now, as a mom, I often hear people say they want their children to be creative. I see a lot of articles and videos on creativity flank my social media feeds too. But what actually is this creativity we want?

Generally speaking, creativity is the ability to produce work that is original and appropriate. It is also known as the ability to think divergently; where one can generate multiple and unusual possibilities when faced with a task or problem. Sternberg and Lubart said that creativity is neither determined at birth nor the prized possession of elite few. Therefore, creativity is available to anyone. It can be learned and nurtured as we grow and as we live.

Two of the many ways I know that can help nurture creativity are exploration and improvisation.

Exploration and Improvisation to Nurture the Creative Child

1. Let's allow them a little exploration.

Exploration for children tends to get messy. So if you happen to be a neat freak; you may need to breathe and lay back a little.

Usually what looks like chaos or disorder may be creative genius potential!!!

Allow the child to go out of your house, roam a bit. A walk along your garden or community center can do. It doesn’t have to be a fancy outdoor get-away. You may help their play by giving some sort of theme through Pretend Plays. Pirates on a Treasure Hunt - that never gets old!.

When my daughter was younger, beginning when she was about two years, I would take her for a walk along the neighborhood. Before getting out of the house, I would already tell her what treasure we are going to look for. It can be something red (on a color theme), something round (on shapes), until it became her own idea of a treasure. We would often gather those up and we would have a bag or basket. Upon reaching back our home, we’d do either crafts with those or pretend to be in a laboratory and examine those “treasures’. After awhile, I didn’t need to prompt her, exploration became natural; these gave out opportunities for open-ended play, creation, and discovery.

When we provide the child with multiple sense stimulation, the child is more likely to make an emotional connection with what the experience of play. The emotional connection they build within themselves becomes the fuel for imagination and creativity. As their mental images increase, give them the leeway to expand further by providing newer stimuli, places, and objects to explore and word.

The Village At The Bed's Corner
The Village At The Bed's Corner | Source

2. Encourage improvisation by shifting from inspiration to production.

Earlier, I mentioned what we would do with the “treasures” we would collect. This is example of how her idea moves from inspiration or imagination into production. And this is the heart of creativity – the re-creation of a newer idea.

Just much like when we go for an experiment or imagine possibilities, we develop new way of thinking. A child can make the shampoo bottle into a space rocket; the boxes into homes; the leaves into bills and pebbles into coins. Ordinary objects gets newer purposes I their minds. They learn to “make-do” with what is available for them. They re-purpose. They improvise.

Helping children move from inspiration to production is not always an easy thing. Children usually have low tolerance for frustration. Their inability to produce the image into a concrete form can be a major source of frustration for them. Parents will need to be patient, accepting and encouraging. Sometimes, if your child is more visual, creating or drafting a rough blueprint may help. It also serves as motivation and can hype them up for the task. Often, children will need some help handling some materials; like hot glue, scissors or cutters. Be available for assistance.

Improvisation can be applied in other areas too. It goes by different names too; like, upcycling, recycling, jazzing up, adding the blings, and so on.

Barbie Doll Dress Upcycled from Socks  (done by my daughter at age 8)
Barbie Doll Dress Upcycled from Socks (done by my daughter at age 8) | Source

You can guess, my home is a constant mess!!!

The price I pay for supporting her creativity. And yeah, I allow my daughter to go around the yard bringing a basket full of "treasures" (trash). She comes in with broken crayons, bottle cap, washers, twigs...and the list can go on forever. She plays with them and imagine things with them.

I also do not limit her play with the standard toys. Just for a bit of fun. She uses my dressing table as a mansion. she's got her first floor on the floor, a mezzanine on the seat, a balcony through an open drawer and her second floor on the table top.

There many ways to nurture the creative child. We have looked into two ways here: by allowing them to explore and allowing them to improvise. Let the children out of the box. Let them see the box in different ways. After all, there many ways to skin a cat.

© 2017 Christine Garay

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    • pen promulgates profile image

      Imran Khan 6 months ago from Mumbai, India

      What a beautiful article, Christine.

      You highlight very crucial points and offer excellent advice. Good job!

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