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Let Them Be Little: 12 Ways to Encourage Play, Wonder, and Learning Everyday

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Within the boundless realm of a child’s mind lies a superpower more potent than any fictional hero’s arsenal – imagination. It is a force that empowers them to embark on extraordinary journeys, to craft worlds unseen by mortal eyes, and to conquer obstacles with unwavering creativity. As parents and mentors, it is our sacred duty to cultivate this extraordinary gift, to provide the fertile soil where imagination can flourish and blossom.

Feeling a little lost on where to begin? Don’t worry! Here are some simple tips to help you cultivate your kid’s imagination and unleash their creative genius.

1. Provide Time for Unstructured Play

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Give your kid some art supplies, costumes, or open-ended toys, like magnetic tiles, toy animals, or building blocks, and let them play freely without giving them any specific instructions.

This unstructured playtime will encourage your child to use their imagination and come up with some brilliant ideas to kill boredom.

2. Read or Tell Stories

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Read to your kid to stimulate their imagination. Preferably, choose books with exciting stories and colorful illustrations that engage them and take them to different worlds.

Also, to inspire their creativity, ask your kid to give you an opening line or story idea and invent your own story. They’ll enjoy being part of the creation process for sure!

3. Go Outside and Explore Nature

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Nature is filled with plenty of opportunities for exploration. Go outside and take your kid for some real adventures. Whether it’s camping, biking or just going to the closest park to play, being in nature will expand your little one’s imagination and bring many other benefits for their cognitive skills and emotional development.

4. Limit Screen Time

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Kids love watching TV and playing video games. However, these are passive activities, which can easily stifle their creativity. Therefore, set boundaries for your child regarding screen time (what they can watch/play and how long) and encourage other activities that help develop their creative self.

5. Don’t Rush to Help Them

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When your child doesn’t know how to do something, don’t rush to help them out (unless it’s an emergency, of course!). Give them a little time to see whether they can come up with a solution themselves. Maybe it will take them more time to do it, or they will do it in another way than you would, but this will improve both their problem-solving skills and creativity.

6. Encourage Pretend Play

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Does your kid like to pick up objects like stones and pretend like they’re something else? Or do they often act like they’re someone else? If so, then let your child engage in these role-playing games, as they can help build skills in numerous essential developmental areas.

7. Do Science Experiments

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Try various science experiments at home to get your kid’s curiosity and imagination going. You will see that they will enjoy simple activities like making a lava lamp, creating a homemade compass, or growing an avocado tree. If you need a few easy science experiment ideas for your kid, check out generation genius.

8. Embrace the Chaos at Home

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Do you worry a lot about your home being messy? You shouldn’t! Your child’s creativity thrives in a little chaos.

All you need to do is to provide a safe place for their imagination to go wild. Once their creative session is finished, you can involve your kid in cleaning up the mess they made, including all the glitter and paint they spilled.

9. Be a Role Model

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Inspire your child by showing them you’re all about creativity. Draw, dance, sing, invent new recipes, or take up any other new hobbies you’d like to. Chances are that they will join you in these activities, or it will encourage them to live more creatively, just like you do!

10. Ask Open-Ended Questions

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Instead of asking questions that require only a simple yes or no answer, focus on asking open-ended questions. For example, instead of asking “Did you have a great day at school today?” try, “How was your day”?

This way, your child will be encouraged to think and share everything that is on their mind. Plus, they will be more engaged in the conversation.

11. Answer All Their Questions

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Kids love to ask a lot of questions. While sometimes this can be quite annoying (especially when you are busy doing something), it’s still worth answering their questions to your best knowledge. This is because they’ll more likely want to learn about new things if they see that you’re always there to provide them with a thorough answer.

12. Celebrate Even The Smallest Successes

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Encourage creativity without pressure by praising your child for even the tiniest things that require imagination. Did your little one draw, paint, or write something beautiful? Celebrate it!

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