Everyone admires a child’s creativity. It’s amazing seeing what they come up with, especially when they’re young and utterly uninhibited about expressing themselves. How can you encourage your children’s creativity over the summer?
Encouraging your children’s creativity is a great way to pull them away from electronic screens. These can be useful in coming up with ideas or learning a new skill, however. My kids love looking up how-to videos on things they want to learn to do, for example.
The other key is to have plenty of supplies waiting for them, of whichever sort your kids prefer. We have a craft cabinet which is full of paints, different types of paper, pens, crayons, crafting foam, and much more. They are also encouraged to use age appropriate tools.
1. Encourage them to read.
Reading is a great way to encourage the imagination, whether you’re helping your child learn to read or they’ve long since mastered it. Let your child pick the books he or she enjoys for the summer – time enough for required reading during the school year.
Take advantage of any reading programs in your area that may encourage your child. Many local libraries have summer reading programs. Barnes & Noble usually has a program over the summer where children in grades 1-6 can earn a free book by reading 8 books and writing the titles in a reading journal. The free book titles are listed on the reading journal.
Don’t push your child to read something they don’t want to over the summer, even if it means they read very little or at all. Do keep looking for what they want to read – even comic books have value as reading material.
2. Encourage them to make things.
There are so many ways your children can use their imaginations while making things, and so many different toys that make it possible, from the long-popular Legos and K’Nex to programs such as Minecraft. You don’t want your kids to overdo it on the computer all summer, of course, but Minecraft and similar programs offer a great deal of flexibility and much less mess than toys which can be left on the floor.
Don’t forget traditional tools and materials as well. Once your kids are ready, they can learn to use a drill, screwdrivers, hammers, saws, and other such tools to make more challenging things.
For younger kids, you can check with your local hardware store, such as Home Depot, to see if they have any kids’ workshops available. Some do, some don’t. These are mostly geared toward younger children and are a great way for kids to learn some of the basics.
Arts and crafts are a good choice as well. You can get cheap crafting supplies at most dollar stores. Older kids and teens may want better quality supplies, of course, but younger kids can be so hard on them that cheaper markers and such can make a lot of sense.
3. Encourage them in music.
Learning to play a musical instrument is good for kids in many ways. Let them choose the instrument they’d like to learn if at all possible – they will enjoy the lessons more this way.
Even if they don’t want to learn an instrument, you can encourage their enjoyment by having music play during the day. Turn on something they’ll enjoy – they might sing or dance along.
We keep a variety of musical instruments available. We have the inevitable recorders they learned to play at school, of course. But they can also play on a keyboard or a small harp.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to let kids make music. Even if they don’t want to sing, you can teach them how to blow across the top of a bottle to make sound.
If your kids are really into music, you may want to encourage them to learn about electronic music production. This could be a great creative outlet for them.
4. Encourage them to play outside.
It may be hot outside in the summer, but your kids can play outdoors anyhow, just as you probably did. Have cold drinks and treats available so they can cool down as needed, but get them outside. Encourage them to catch bugs (at least the non-stinging sort), have water fights, climb trees and play with friends. Let them roam the neighborhood as they get old enough.
Bikes are a great way to get your kids out and exploring. My son love to go out riding in the wash near our house. I usually have him go with a friend, as there’s poor phone reception in that area. Usually, they’re so tired at then end that they text for a ride home, even though it’s less than a half mile back.
It is, admittedly, hard to get kids out when it’s miserably hot outside. You probably don’t want to leave the nice, cool house either. Just remember that playing outside in the evening is perfectly reasonable – plus you don’t have to worry about sunburn.
There are also lots of fun summer night activities you can do as a family. Get everyone out and have fun together!
5. Don’t overschedule them.
Don’t overschedule your children’s summer days. Give them time to just be themselves. Classes of various sorts can be good for your kids, but more important is that they have time to do whatever they want.
Free time is truly one of the best ways to encourage your children’s creativity, so long as you don’t let them sit in front of a screen the whole time. Let them be bored. Boredom is good. Kids who are bored are kids who will come up with something interesting to do.
This can be one of the more difficult things to avoid, as kids who are in activities are busy kids, and that means a nice break for parents. Also, many kids want to take fun classes over the summer, to learn things that are of interest to them.
You don’t have to deny them that. Just make sure that your children have a significant amount of time over the summer with nothing on their schedule. That downtime is healthy.
My personal suggestion for summer classes for kids includes swimming lessons. Even if they don’t have regular access to a pool outside of class, it’s a good idea. You never know when a friend will have a pool or you’ll have some other opportunity as a family to go swimming. It’s more fun when everyone knows how.
6. Spend time together as a family.
You don’t have to do anything big, but do things as a family. Have game nights. Watch a movie together. Have a picnic. Go camping. Go on vacation. Have a water balloon fight. Read. Talk about things you’ve done and dreams you have. Big or little, do things together as a family.
You can also take on a family project for the summer. Work on a garden. Build a fort. Make it fun for everyone.
Volunteering over the summer can also be good. You don’t have to sign up for anything formal if you don’t want to – cleaning up the trash in a local park is always an option. But you can also see if any local retirement homes need volunteers, or animal rescues, or whatever you want to do. Get together and do something to make the world just a bit better.