I love Pinterest for all the pretty things it brings into my life. But I also find it frustrating for all the wrong things it brings. For instance, the trend it has to make things entirely harder than they need to be. One of these is parenting. Pins on parenting tend to make it overwhelming and, none are more disturbing than those that aim to teach imagination and creativity.
Because imagination and creativity are not skills that are taught. These are things we are born with. They can be nurtured. They can be encouraged. They can be honed.
But they do not need to be taught. They do not require special toys. Games. Tools. Exercises.
In fact, the more we, as parents, do to encourage creativity, we only end up discouraging it. The best thing to do is to step back and let your child go.
You can provide simple toys with few bells and whistles. Wifi, internet access, or retina display are not necessary. A box of crayons, markers, paper, blocks, pots, and pans will foster imagination. Avoid the modern-parent tendency to over-supply. A package of eight crayons is just as effective as the pack of 124. White paper will do.
The goal: simple supplies so your child can fill in the rest with the colors of their mind.
Your child doesn’t need stimulation every moment of the day. Let them set the pace when possible. If they want to sit around being quiet, let them. If they want to play alone, let them. If they want you to play, join in. But let them guide the play. Don’t correct them or “teach” them. If the cow barks or the truck moos, that’s alright. Just have fun!
Taking a step backward, away from all of today’s technology might seem counter-intuitive. Why not take advantage of all these new things we have available to us? Without a new supply of creative minds to create new technology we won’t keep having new cool things! Fertile, creative young minds grow up to be the minds of grown ups who write great novels and screen plays; who solve medical mysteries and cure diseases. Creative young minds grow up to be world leaders who solve difficult problems with creativity rather than violence.
Put away the iPad, turn off the television, and hand your kid a pack of crayons and a pad of paper. Sit back and watch what she creates. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.