As a parent it can be difficult to know exactly what activities you should be doing with your children to ensure that they learn and develop whilst having fun and experiencing new things.
There are lots of different kinds of games, fun, and activities that you can do at home or outdoors, and one of them is creative play. But what is creative play?
Why is it so important that you facilitate creative play for your children? And what steps can you take to introduce this style of playing into your home? Keep reading to find out more.
What Is Creative Play?
Creative play is an activity that encourages children to role play, use their imagination, try new things, and to use toys or materials that they are already familiar with in a new way.
Creative play encourages self-expression through experimentation, so the children can learn about themselves as well as learning about the world around them.
A lot of different activities fall under creative play – painting, drawing, coloring, arts and crafts, building, playing with toys, imaginary games, storytelling and much more.
Any activity that fosters creativity, learning through experimentation, and an element of self-expression could be classed as creative play.
Why Is Creative Play So Important?
There are lots of benefits to facilitating creative play for your child as it can be very important in helping your child to develop physical, social, cognitive and emotional skills.
Creative play integrates how the child feels with the task that they are completing which gives them a safe space to explore their emotions and to express them in a healthy way.
This is an important step in terms of helping children to integrate into social environments and helps them to regulate their own behavior- two very important skills that they can carry forward and develop as they grow up.
These activities also help them to learn about their peers, and to respect other people as they share their own emotions and experiences.
As children engage in creative play together they learn how to interact and communicate with each other, how to collaborate, and how to compromise so that everyone’s ideas are included.
Creative play can also stimulate your child’s mind, giving them experiences of problem solving and trying new ways to achieve a desired outcome.
If your child is taking part in arts and crafts, they might need to experiment with different materials to create what they can visualize in their minds.
If they are reading a story, it helps them to develop skills in comprehension, retaining information, and gets them thinking about the world as something bigger than themselves and their lives.
Creative play can often be very hands-on, which means that your child is also developing important skills in coordination and muscle memory as well as improving their fine motor skills.
Drawing, coloring, painting, building blocks, playdough- these are all great examples of hands-on creative play.
Creative play is also a great way to help your child find out what their likes and dislikes are in an exciting environment with very little pressure.
They can experiment with shapes, colors, materials, ideas, and imaginary stories, all whilst expressing themselves and learning about themselves.
By watching and engaging in your child’s creative play, but not controlling it, you can also learn a lot about your child and what kind of person they are developing into.
How Can You Introduce Creative Play To Your Children?
Creative play is a very broad concept that encompasses lots of different kinds of activities, so there is a good chance that your children are already engaging in creative play.
It is important as a parent that you create the opportunities for creative play, you supervise the activities, but you don’t take over too much control.
This is an opportunity for your child to find their voice, to learn how to express themselves and communicate, and to build their confidence. If you take over or become too heavily involved then your child won’t get the full benefit from the creative play.
You could with something simple like drawing and coloring. Set up a nice space with paper, pencils, and coloring pencils. Remember, let your child lead the activity. Don’t tell them what to draw, let them come up with an idea of their own.
If your child is not very proactive or confident then encourage them with open questions rather than suggestions – ‘what do you want to draw?’, ‘what colors would you like to use?’.
If they are still struggling to think of something then you could see if they want to draw their favorite animal, or a character from their favorite book or tv show- there should always be an element of choice involved.
Another great activity to try is get them to design something – to make up a new animal, a new flower, or a new kind of food – something that will get them to use their imagination and think outside of the box.
To give your child even more creative opportunities, introduce arts and crafts so they can experiment with different materials – cardboard, felt, cotton wool, glitter, paint, glue- this will be very stimulating and will really allow them to express themselves and experiment.
Art isn’t the only option for creative play- you could try a storytelling session. If you ask your child to make up a story to tell you they will be able to use their imagination, but they are also very likely to talk about something that is important to them.
The setting or the events of the story might be reflective of things in your child’s life and this will help you to get to know them better whilst giving them a chance to express themselves. You could combine the two activities by helping your child turn their story into a story book.
You can also get outdoors for creative play and use nature – collect sticks, leaves and pine cones to use in your arts and crafts or play an imaginary game outdoors. Getting into a new environment can be inspiring and exciting for your child and will open up even more avenues of creativity to explore.
So if you’ve ever wondered ‘What Is Creative Play?’ and how you can enjoy this pastime with your children, then hopefully we have covered all bases in this article.
So grab your favorite crafts and household objects, and get creative with your kids.