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By Jean Warren

Preschoolers are naturally creative. They imagine, fantasize, explore, investigate, create and find new uses for just about everything they encounter. The problem has never been how to get young children to be creative. The problem has always been how to nurture this skill rather than squelch it. As adults we have structured our lives into set patterns. Are we too set in our ways to allow first explorations and new approaches to things from our children?

Below are some tips for parents on nurturing creativity in their children.

  • ALLOW RISKS - We need to allow young children to be able to take some risks, to make mistakes and thus learn through them. Does your child know that sometimes it's ok to be different, that it's ok for them to take chances?
  • ENCOURAGE CHOICES - We need to provide our children with opportunities to make choices and to solve problems. We can encourage inventive solutions to problems and support different ways to do things. Is it ok in your house to use ordinary things in unusual ways? Do you encourage your children to make up "what if" scenarios?
  • ALLOW DAYDREAMING - We need to provide opportunities for young children to just daydream. Does your child have a place where he can be quiet and sort through experiences?
  • ENCOURAGE CURIOSITY - It is important to encourage children to be observant, to be curious, to explore and to experiment.

Parents can also encourage creativity by maintaining an appropriate environment.

  • SECURITY - Children need to feel secure in their environment before they can feel comfortable exploring.
  • PLAY AREA - Children need a play or "messy" area. They need a place where it is okay to make a mess, a place that allows for experimentation.
  • OPEN-ENDED TOYS - It is important to surround your child in their preschool years with open-ended basic toys; such as blocks, art supplies, puppets, play animals and objects. Toys that can be instantly converted into whatever your child wants them to be are much better than toys that can only do and be one thing.