Cultivating Creative Kids

By: Rosa M. Henshaw, M.A.

Raising a creative child is simpler than what you might think. All it takes is a little encouragement and allowing the child some opportunity to have "freedom of action and speech". By providing these opportunities, the child can explore and express her thoughts or actions without being evaluated. As an adult, you can try to provide the environment for the child to take a risk, challenge what is assumed, and see things in a new manner.

What is creative thinking? Creative thinking is basically a form of problem-solving. Creativity allows a type of thought-process that involves flexibility and adaptability skills. There seems to be two types of thought process that a child goes through; the problems that have often one correct solution (convergent thought), and the other problems that require many solutions (divergent thought); some might be fresh, others high quality and workable, therefore, creative! The Carnegie Report of 1986, discusses how these skills are critical for the young student since the child is learning and designing their own thought processes.

To understand creativity in a child, it is important to distinguish the differences between creativity from talent and intelligence. Some researchers suggest that creativity in a child could be differentiated from other cognitive abilities. Keep in mind that creative-thinking process is not only found in art, music, or writing, but also throughout the sciences, social studies, or in every day life activities.

What is important is to focus on the production or generation of ideas. Since creativity is a process of solving problems, then what needs to happen is to provide the environment where the child can question it, fix or change it, or alter the solution to the problem. Allow the time so that the child can generate multiple ideas in a place where he will not be evaluated or judged.

Since children learn differently at different ages, there are ways to get your child to start using their creativity.


  1. Place black & white pictures or very colorful pictures next to the baby. Contrasting colors not only are good for the infants eye development but also get their cognitive thinking started (neurons continually generate and develop in the brain at this age).
  2. Read to your Baby.
  3. Sing songs to them. Ask the Infant questions. (Example: How are you this morning?)


  1. Read to your toddler. Let them see, point at things on the page, and turn the page. Tell the child read to you. Even though the story might not be the same as what reads in the book, it allows for them to explore their creativity and increase their vocabulary.
  2. Let them explore. Toddlers' favorite thing is to explore! (Game: Find different shapes of animals in the clouds).
  3. Keep art material ready to be use. Allow time daily to experiment with colors, paints, or glue.
  4. Play house.

Early Elementary

  1. Provide an environment & time that allows the child to explore and play without restraints.
  2. Parents adapt to the child's ideas rather than trying to structure the child's ideas around the adult's concepts.
  3. Provide responsibilities (i.e. make their own bed, place their stuffed animals on their bed the way they like it, help you set the table their way). It is important to follow the child's process of doing rather that the final product.
  4. Ask your child to imagine what would happen if...Cats would bark or trees had feet. What if you were in a snowstorm, where would you go?..What if you had fins or flippers?
  5. Create stories. Play a game of turn-taking. You can take turns tell a story by saying one sentence at a time.
  6. Provide creative activities. Roll play the characters of a book or movie by using dolls, action figures, or allow them to dress-up into the characters.

Late Elementary

  1. Involve creative problem-solving in your child's every day life. Allow for your child take some responsibility of his actions and to problem-solve his solutions without adult input.
  2. Allow the child to explore all possibilities of approach to the problem. Allow for then to move from a popular response to a more original ideas or reaction.
  3. Emphasize on process of thinking rather than product.

Books that provide Extra Imagination:

Pop-Up-Books. There are many Pop-up-books for all ages.

Interactive Books. Books that have characters made of felt (animals, people and cloths), books with puppets, or books that have paper cutout characters help the child's imagination. They bringing the characters out of the books and lets them create their own adventures.

And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street By Dr. Seuss (RANDOM HOUSE). A classic story of a character called Marco and his efforts of telling an exciting story. And of course appropriate for our little part of the world, Mulberry Lane.

Madlenka by Peter Sis (FANCES FOSTER BOOKS). You enter into the magical world of Madlenka who explores different people and places.

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