Jillian Riley, otherwise known as A Mom with a Lesson Plan, is the mother of two and a former preschool teacher. I love her blog tagline, which is “add a little learning to your playtime.” Here she shares some ideas and tips with us on ways to encourage creativity in our children.
Jillian’s new e-book, Raising a Creative Kid: Simple Strategies for Igniting and Nurturing that Creative Spark, is filled with easy-to-use information that parents can implement everyday. While she included a chapter on arts and crafts, she focuses on showing parents how we can encourage creativity in our children in many different ways such as buying open-ended toys, playing creative games, the language we use, and appreciating mistakes.
Painting the egg cartons was my idea… the party blower/ egg carton game was Big M’s idea.
JEAN: I enjoyed reading your e-book, Raising a Creative Kid, and especially like that you look beyond arts and crafts when discussing creativity. How do you define creativity?
JILLIAN: Creativity means having the confidence that you will be able to find an answer, whatever the situation might be. While using creativity can be fun, relaxing, and profitable, I think the bottom line is that being creative makes you a problem solver.
JEAN: What is your best bit of advice for parents who want to encourage their children’s creativity, yet don’t consider themselves creative (and who may feel hampered by their own self image)?
JILLIAN: Oh, I love this question. It really cuts to the heart of Raising a Creative Kid. Creativity can be overwhelming if you think in terms of what is difficult for you. I am not an artist, and if I tried to find creativity in my drawing I would surely be frustrated and defeated.
The great thing about creativity, though, is that it looks different in every person. You might be creative with numbers, creative with ideas, creative with social situations. Finding places where you are already creative and focusing on those will help grow your confidence, nurturing your creative spirit.
Imagine how much learning your kids will absorb by being a part of your creative process!
JEAN: What are your children’s favorite creative outlets? What really engages them and get’s them to them to think and create “outside of the box”?
JILLIAN: Big M creates all the time. This morning he dragged an old rain gutter, two large orange cones and a bucket full of wiffle golf balls over to the slide. I watched as he placed the cones on either end of the rain gutter and propped one cone up on the bottom of the slide.
He spent the rest of the morning dropping balls down the slide, into the cone, through the rain gutter, out the other cone. The pride on his face as he watched his idea come to life was exactly what drives me to provide them with a creativity rich environment.
Little M loves to sing. She makes up songs while she is playing or working. One of my favorite things is to sit close to her while she plays and listen to her stories unfold.
JILLIAN: That’s easy. Legos, dress-up clothes and wooden blocks. Those are the three toys that are constantly being used.
Big M pretending to build a sand castle at our indoor beach. Little M love to make fun mixtures. Here she used dirt, water, leaves and (eww) slugs.
JEAN: How do you feel your past experience as a preschool teacher and co-owner has affected how you parent?
JILLIAN: Early childhood training and experience has given me an extensive tool bag to grab from and the confidence to grow with my kids. I sometimes joke that every parent would benefit from an Early Childhood Degree. Really though, we are lucky to live in an age where finding easy, doable answers is just a click away.
JEAN: And, the flip side of that question is, how has being a parent affected how you view teaching?
JILLIAN: Having the opportunity to watch M and M learn in their everyday lives has increased my passion for playful learning. I see that they learn so much faster and soak up so much more when they are in charge of the course their learning takes. Now that they are entering school I am working hard to keep learning about life, not just something you do at school.
JEAN: Thanks so much, Jillian!
For more about Jillian and her blog, visit A Mom with a Lesson Plan. She has a lot of great ideas for making learning fun. My favorite? Her post about using kid-made storytelling cards (yes, I pinned it).