Why having a vivid imagination is good – and how you can develop your child’s creative thinking.

Many of us can probably admit to using the well-worn excuse, “I’m just not the creative type” in order to get out of a school craft project or to avoid that community cake sale. Yet, we are all naturally creative beings, practising our creative skills on a daily basis – from navigating a route around the traffic to whipping up dinner with what’s left in the fridge or even, simply, deciding what to wear each morning.

 What is creativity and why do we need it?

“Much of creativity does not necessarily have to do with the arts. Activities in our everyday lives provide us with numerous opportunities for problem solving, lateral thinking and widening our thought patterns,” comments Liz Senior, Occupational Therapist and Founder of Clamber Club. “While creativity is a skill that should be nurtured from a very young age, it is something that we continue to develop throughout our lives,” she adds.

Creative activities provide a number of benefits by:

  • Enhancing the ability to visualise,
  • Providing problem-solving and decision-making opportunities,
  • Promoting lateral thinking,
  • Helping to refine gross and fine motor skills,
  • Assisting in the development of concentration, and
  • Providing an immense feeling of satisfaction and gratification.

Creativity is also an important aspect of your child’s emotional development. “Creativity enables your child to communicate by expressing his thoughts and feelings, whether through dancing, drawing, pretend play or by making music,” says Senior.

How can I help my child to be creative?

“All art and other creative experiences are first perceived through the senses. Provide a rich sensory environment for your child that allows them to see, hear, feel, smell, and taste,” says Senior. “Expose your child to different art forms, listen to a wide variety of music and talk about the beauty of the world around you.”

“You should also encourage your child to think up games and story ideas for themselves, and come up with their own solutions to problems,” she adds.

Before starting a creative activity with your child, Senior suggests that you ask yourself a number of questions: Will the activity develop the imagination, offer a sensory experience, allow the freedom to experiment, and provide the child with a feeling of success or satisfaction?

“Children need to be given time to play in an unstructured way. They need time to reflect, to imagine and to use their own initiative in play. This is what allows creativity and imagination to develop,” she concludes.


Fun and games to inspire creativity:

  • Painting and drawing
    • Use finger-paints to paint on large surfaces using big arm movements
    • Scribble on paving stones with chalk
    • Make a collage out of sand, lentils, raisins, and leaves

  • Music making
    • Sing your own silly songs, making up your own words
    • Fill empty plastic water bottles to make ‘shakers’
    • Dance together to a variety of music

  • Drama and storytelling
    • Collect old photographs and encourage your child to make up the story in sequence
    • Provide a dress-up box with scraps of material for the child to imagine into costumes
    • Build a house by hanging a blanket over a table. Leave your child to invent the rest.