Creative children, creative future. Tips for how to help your kids develop their creative skills.

Creative children, creative future. Tips for how to help your kids develop their creative skills.

by Jude Goodwin

Research has found that jobs which require creative skills will be growing over the next decade while at the same time many of today’s jobs, such as those which involve customer service or basic computer skills, will be gradually replaced by automation. To help prepare their kids for a creative future, parents will want to foster creative thinking and nurture creative experience in their homes.

Creativity can happen anytime anywhere and busy parents might despair over the mess. But don’t let this prevent you from encouraging your child’s creative expression!

The perfect place

Set up an area in your home as a dedicated creative space. Make sure the floor is washable and there’s a good table with chairs available. Sturdy chairs are best because your little Rembrandt is going to be up on their knees sooner or later. In her early pre-school days I had my toddler set up with her own small table - but I found this made it difficult for me to join in. I recommend either your kitchen table, or a good sturdy side table for your child’s art studio.

The gear

Gather a variety of art materials and tools and keep them in this area and available at all times. We had a little set of shelves near our kitchen table which served really well. Crayons and coloured pens and scissors and tape and glue were sorted into small baskets and kept on the shelves within easy reach. Special supplies were kept in sealed containers for special projects.

For younger artists, little boxes of stickers, glue sticks, cotton balls, popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners can provide for endless creative play. You can even put together little ‘art kits’ using sandwich bags. PS: these make great ‘restaurant’ kits because not all restaurants have crayons and paper!

Old shirts, worn backwards, make great artist smocks and protect clothing from sparkle glue and paint.

For school-age kids, paints are popular. You can buy these in plastic bottles at any dollar store. We have them in a lidded container on the shelves, ready to be lifted out and set on the table. Different brushes can be stored standing in a mason jar. Be sure your child cleans the brushes after play and stores them bristle end up. You can also buy canvas boards of different sizes which are pleasing because they don’t react to the water and wrinkle.

At our house, creativity didn’t end with paints and crayons. We had creative beading (pony beads are fantastic for this), collage-making using old magazines, buttons, and other miscellaneous found items, scrapbooking with photos and coloured papers, and model making with plasticine, Fimo, or clays that harden as they dry.

The inspiration

And finally, once you have your child’s art world set up, try to expose them to as many ideas and as much inspiration as possible. Local libraries and community centres often have art shows where you and your family can walk together and talk about the sculptures and paintings. Recreation programs in your town often have art classes. When your child is young, be prepared to join them in the class. And if you know any creative adults, invite them over for a special art afternoon - you can stock up on the necessary materials before your guest arrives.

Follow these easy guidelines and before you know it, you and your family will be creating wonderful works of art together. Have fun!