Parents across Australia face the same challenges and questions, only the answers are never the same.
When it comes to the growth and development of our children, we all want to be a positive influence, but we’re not always sure how.
Creative development has clear benefits. It helps build imagination and confidence, it builds both fine and gross motor skills, and – best of all – it’s fun. But how do we start? What type of creative endeavours are best? And how do we actively promote development in our children?
What is creative development?
People often talk about creativity in a positive light, but what is it and how do we develop it?
Although there’s no one fixed answer, creativity can mean a lot of things. It’s the way we think, decide and work things out. From which colour to use to how to solve a problem.
Like with anything in life, the more we do something, the better we get. Introducing babies to songs, toddlers to instruments and children to a wide array of music will do more than get them reaching for the radio, it’ll teach them a lot of practical skills that will help them through life. The same is true of drama, crafts and many other creative pursuits.
The importance of creative development in children
Our childhood years are the most important time for development and learning. This is when our imaginations grow, in areas like arts and crafts, dance and music.
While these skills all have obvious benefits in themselves — from being able to colour inside the lines, draw realistic pictures and play instruments — they also help in other areas. These creative pursuits help to build confidence in children, help develop their communication skills, improve fine motor skills and also give them new challenges to think about and solve.
While you can do a lot of these activities at home, children often get the most benefit when surrounded by their peers (and maybe a pro showing them the hopes). Enrolling them in a specific class or finding a child care centre that promotes creativity and do wonders.
Each child reacts differently to different creative play, and even different teachers. Trying to show them as many different pursuits as you can (at home, in class and at day care) will likely lead to quicker improvements and a longer-lasting love.
Outdoor play can be almost anything you can imagine, with the important caveat that you’re getting fresh air.
From climbing trees and working on gross motor skills to collecting flowers and appreciating the beauty in the world, there’s a lot to see and do outside.
One of the biggest advantages is the chance to run freely, building up stamina and developing healthy habits for later in life.
Many children also start to play sports outside, which can help with co-ordination and other soft skills. From hitting a ball to catching one, each activity teaches new skills and creates new development.
Although it may not be the first creative art that springs to mind, puppet play has fantastic benefits. Just like acting, drama and playing with figurines, puppet play does a lot for your child.
Nearly every game with puppets involves stories. So not only do puppets encourage imaginations to run riot, but they also allow grown ups to use them for education. By setting up scenarios for children, we can encourage them to look through someone else’s eyes, build their vocabulary and create new worlds with their friends.
One of the big advantages of puppet play over other forms of make-believe is the added focus on dexterity and fine motor skills. Young children may struggle at first with the idea of making puppets move, but as they practise you’ll see their confidence spreads to other areas of life.
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts are often the go-to activity for rainy days. Drawing and colouring take little in the way of preparation and they can entertain a child for hours. Add in paints, playdough and other materials and you’ve got endless hours of fun.
Again, these activities all help hone fine motor skills and they often lead children up to other skills. Colouring in gets them used to holding a pen, which is needed when they start to write. Pictures introduce them to shapes, playdough to clay and other materials let them experience new textures.
Arts also give your child the independence to make their own decisions. From simple things like choosing what colour to pick to open decisions like what to draw, this is a great time for them to be boss.
Musical learning and development
Time and time again, studies have shown that music helps aid the development of children. Listening to different songs and instruments gives them a wider understanding and appreciation of music which will be good in later years.
Music classes and the chance to play instruments also helps teach them things like listening to instructions and following a pattern. They’ll get introduced to ideas like the difference between loud and quiet or fast and slow.
In quieter times, singing songs together can do wonders. Your child will learn new words, practise using their voice and have fun all at the same time. As they get used to the rhythm of songs, you’ll notice they start to make up their own simple songs too.
Creative development through dance
Dance ties together a few activities, like an appreciation of music with physical movement.
Unlike other arts which tend to focus on fine motor skills, dance looks to improve gross motor skills. As with music classes, you can use dance to teach concepts like fast and slow, or simply to listen to instructions like stop and start.
Depending on the song, you can also get your child to imitate what’s going on. Whether you’re stomping like an elephant, running like a dog or swimming like a fish, dance is a great gateway into make-believe.