How to Nurture Your Child's Imagination

Here's how to nurture your child's imaginative soul -- and to help it flourish.

An Opportunity for Creativity

For his second birthday, my older son, Matt, received an easel-and-paint set as a gift. My husband and I showed him how to use it once -- and he was off. He painted all day, every day, for weeks. Each painting took only a few seconds to complete (like most 2-year-olds, he had a short attention span), but he obviously took great delight in his colorful creations.

Seven years later, when my younger son was the same age, we pulled out the easel and paints for him. Hoping to re-create his brother's experience, I showed him how to use the watercolors and even painted a picture of a cat. Greg stared at the easel for a second, then walked away to play with his action figures.

I've since come to accept that some kids are more naturally inclined to creative pursuits than others. To this day, my older son, now 12, has a more artistic spirit than his younger brother. But just because a child isn't destined to be the next Pablo Picasso doesn't mean that his creative development should be ignored. "All children can and should learn how to tap into their own creativity," says Torie Seeger, a senior program specialist at the Early Childhood Education and Training Program of the State University of New York at Albany. "Some of them simply need more opportunities and more guidance than others."

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