Cultivate Your Grandchild's Creativity

a special feature from Leslie Zinberg, co-founder

Do your grandkids love playing on your iPhone or your iPad? Ours do. But – do they also love creating? Do you encourage the creativity?  As a grandma of two, I think it’s particularly fun, interesting, and important to stimulate some good old-fashion ingenuity and imagination.

Kids are usually more creative than adults. They aren’t worried about judgment. They are not concerned that you may be watching them or listening to them as their dolls talk to each other, or their toy trucks and cars make zooming noises through the ‘streets’ of your home.

One of the best ways we, as grandparents, can contribute to our grandchildren’s lives is by boosting their imagination. Unstructured play time and time to simply daydream are freeing. “Decades-long follow-up studies of kids’ test scores show that the measure of a child’s creative thinking is the best predictor of his or her accomplishments as an adult,” says Mark Runco, Ph.D, editor of Creativity Research Journal. Creativity is a key to success. So, let’s unlock that inventiveness and make our homes inspiration vehicles for our grandchildren. Here are some suggestions for you:

-Equip your home with water colors, paint brushes, construction paper, scissors, markers, colored pencils, crayons, glue, stickers, glitter, blank white paper, blocks, Legos, old boxes, tape, dolls, stuffed animals, dress-up clothes… You get the idea.

-If your grandkids want to play “house” or “school” or “doctor”, and they want you to be a participant, please, please join in, and be a part of the play. Get involved. Bring out the band aids, make a make-believe x-ray, dress up like a “mom” or a “dad” or “teacher” or “policeman”.  Get into it. At some point, the kids will want to play by themselves, and won’t want your participation. But– when they are asking, answer their calling. Enjoy the moments!

-Create scenarios to promote creativity. Sit down at your desk or computer and write down 10 words, or write an opening sentence, “It was very early in the morning and…” Then write and develop a story together using these words. Ask questions to inspire thoughts. Go in to detail. Ask for descriptions of a character. Maybe make a little book. Have the kids illustrate the pages.

-Make up silly jokes. Who doesn’t love laughing. Our grandkids love it when we are funny and get the giggles. Joke books are the best. Make sure you have a few of them in the house.

-Read books together and ask questions as you are reading. “What do you think will happen now?”, “How do you think this character will get out of this situation?”, “Have you ever felt like this?” Encourage discussion. Play devil’s advocate: “What if…?” Talk about opposing viewpoints.

-If your grandchild loves art, or hockey, or robotics, or golf, or dance, or piano, or computer programming, encourage his/her passion! Go to recitals, games, tournaments, whatever you can do to show him/her that you are with them, and love being a part of their passion.

-Get in to the kitchen. Cook and bake together. When kids cook, they eat better. They are more likely to eat the food they make because they are engaged in the process. Let them experiment without a recipe, and see if it works. The kitchen is scientific, mathematic, and artful. You are making and baking memories.

As Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is contagious, pass it on.” Please tell us how you create in your home.