Tuesday 28 February 2012


A report released today by the University of Edinburgh shows that creativity in children has seriously declined in the last 30 years, meaning they might lack essential social and interactive skills necessary for success in later life, veering Britain towards a creativity crisis.

In response to these findings, Mini Babybel has launched a campaign encouraging families to get creative and have fun doing so. Fronted by celebrity dad Jeff Brazier, the campaign is set to raise awareness of the importance of creativity in a child’s development, highlighting ways parents can actively encourage children to use their imagination in order to help the next generation be successful.

Despite a third of mums and dads worrying their children aren’t spending enough time being creative, 1 in 7 parents spend less than an hour a week solely dedicated to their children’s creativity needs.
Knowing how to encourage creativity is a parenting skill that 1 in 3 parents would like to improve upon, especially as 48% of parents noticed a marked improvement in their children’s behaviour when they set them inventive tasks.

To help parents encourage their kids to be more creative, Professor John Davis has suggested a list of 15 things parents can do with their children, designed with creativity and fun in mind. The list can be found at www.babybel.co.uk.

1.       Provide quality/rich creative environments: Continue to give children opportunities from the earliest age to be creative with everyday things in the home – what would they like to build with cartons, plastic bottles, kitchen roll tubes and cereal boxes?; what collages or pictures would they create with cut outs from old magazines?; and what shaped bubbles can they make from soapy water?
2.       Children should experience opportunities for collaborative creativity: Encourage children to talk about and share their ideas with one another in creative ways using rhymes, songs or make believe stories - teachers/parents should go with the flow and play off the child’s view
3.       Parents can encourage everyday creativity into home routines e.g. finding different ways to measure quantities for baking. Letting children try out their own ideas for recipes and decorating cakes may not taste the greatest, but you can have fun conjuring up your child’s unique creations!
4.       Arts and Crafts don’t have to be expensive – what shapes and letters can you make with old wrappers, gift paper and clothing? Ask children to use different textures for different letters to create a fun, textured alphabet
5.       Why not challenge older children to think about local issues they find important and how they can make a difference? They could develop a poster to send to a local MP or councillor to give them another prod about that new play equipment or sports pitch that they are always promising to do something about. Older children love a sense of responsibility and you will be amazed at their creative solutions
6.       What about role play and drama ? – can you use household materials to make hats or masks? Ask children what their hat would be about and then encourage them to create a role play game with their friends/school mates – alternatively they could use dolls or play figures
7.       Pretend your coat is a magic carpet – where in the world will it take you? 
8.       On rainy days, blow up a balloon and have a quick game of keeping the balloon up using hands, arms, feet, toes, heads, noses, knees – it’s a great way to teach young children different words, to develop hand/eye coordination and to keep older children fit (and much safer than the football!).  With older children you could add in a bit of numeracy by rolling a couple of dice to see how many times you have to keep the balloon up
9.       With older children you can also develop a creative enquiry activity. For example they could do a green zone audit of your home and make a plan on how it could become more environmentally friendly – a trip to the local library might enable them to find out some top tips or a look online if you have web access
10.   Plan play that involves some ‘risk’ – outdoors, children will encounter nettles which might sting and most children may trip when playing. Could you play a ‘who can see the tripping spot’ game at the local park or ask your child/children what they would like to do outdoors? The skill is to talk about, understand and plan the risk involved in play – can you encourage your child to self-assess the risks e.g. when climbing a tree can they judge when they can climb themselves and when they want help? 
11.   Celebrate the benefits of learning by doing, using scenarios and joint solving of problems – for example, you could set your children the task of going with you to the supermarket and staying within a budget – the activity could start with them having to make a map from memory to direct you there, you could also play ‘I spy’ on the way
12.   Children enjoy building strong creative relationships with their friends. Many children’s party games involve a single winner, however the idea of fairness can be encouraged when children win together. For example, using different coloured sweets (or cakes/biscuits) and a set of scales, two teams of children put on or take off 1, 2 or 3 sweets on either side of the set of scales. The teams win when they balance the scales and each get to share and eat what is on their scale
13.   Young children love meeting other children and somewhere near you is a local park with, for example, a sandpit that provides a great place for kids to get stuck in and really enjoy themselves!
14.   Children will be inventive with whatever they find, making drum sticks out of pencils/pens, and drums out of toys – the noise can be off putting but stop and think for a minute – are you really feeling that uncreative or can you join in with a makeshift tambourine and encourage them?
15.   Parents and Teachers need to value ambiguity, ask open ended questions, encourage experimentation, model creative working, appreciate unexpected contributions, value fantasy/imagination, allow children to take charge, discuss conflicting/connecting ideas and promote persistence – so next time your child comes back with that onerous homework activity, avoid getting tired and grumpy and view it as just another adventure on the road to creativity!

 for more information : www.babybel.co.uk

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