Inspiring Imagination: 5 Tips for Raising Creative, Curious Kids

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These five tips have helped our family with 5 kids in raising creative, curious kids. I hope they help your imaginations flourish, as well!

I tell my 5 kids all the time that the most important part of being a teacher is being a learner. Teachers don’t need to know it all! But great teachers are always curious, and always willing to learn. The same goes for curious kids.

I want my kids to be that way, too! I want kids who are open-minded and curious, and who have active imaginations. And I want kids who love places and people around the world and also right at home. I want our family to have a culture of curiosity.

After all, as Lionel Shriver said, nothing is interesting if you’re not interested!

Because that creativity and curiosity? It builds connection, and it builds love. It creates interest in and appreciation for others’ perspectives and stories. And It raises kids who are understanding and empathetic and compassionate.

And that is the real goal.

tips for curious kids

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Inspiring Imagination: 5 Tips for Raising Creative, Curious Kids

 

Model Curiosity

As any parent (or older sibling) knows, kids like to imitate. They’re born to do that! It’s how they learn. That’s how your kids start repeating words and phrases you say, or pretend to cook while you’re making dinner. They’re learning the details of life from you, and often try to copy what you do as best as they can.

Because of this, the best way to raise curious kids is to be curious yourself! Ask questions – and find answers. Notice colors and shapes, bugs and birds and trees while you’re out and about. Read books. Ask people questions.

This can also look like continuing your own education. It can be as simple as taking a creative class or researching natural products for your family. Just do something that interests YOU.

Here’s how to take a bunch of creative classes from experts completely for free!

 

Seek Answers

It can be SO tempting to respond to kids’ millions of questions by just making something up, or even just saying that you don’t know. But I promise if you try to find out the answer – and show your kids how you do – you’ll spark interest and curiosity in them, as well. You’ll teach them that knowledge is worth the effort, and that there are ways to answer that curiosity. That, in turn, will give them freedom to continue to be curious in the future.

Do your best to seek answers from a variety of sources. Is there a resource book? A video? A newspaper article? A real-life experiment? Consider all the different ways you can learn and seek answers for your curious kids.

 

Provide Opportunities for Curiosity and Imagination in Kids

Not all stimuli are created equal. Books, for instance, tend to strengthen neural pathways in a way that creates more brain activity, which means more questions and more curious kids. Screens don’t do that as well as books, but some screen programs are better than others. Look for ones that invite questions, not just answers, and that connect to their world (whether realistic or fantastical).

Travel, whether virtual or physical, is also incredible for inspiring curious kids. After we’d spent a week learning about Italy with kids, my kids showed up one afternoon in full “gladiator” armor made out of cardboard. I hadn’t given them the prompt, but our week of learning had given them imagination ideas and tools to work with.

Similarly, actual travel – from the landmarks to the people to the food – can develop imagination in kids. There’s nothing like filling their minds with far-off lands, parks, outdoor adventures, museums, and new friends to help them be creative.

Here are some tips for virtual field trips for toddlers and preschoolers!

 

Provide Resources

Obviously, every family situation is different, especially when it comes to finances. But I promise that there are tons of completely FREE resources that will allow your kids to develop their curiosity. Currently, a couple of my kids are obsessed with cardboard and tape. If you don’t have cardboard around your own home, consider asking a friend or neighbor if they have some they don’t need.

Also, consider what else you may have around your house that may be worn out and no longer needed. Do you have some old, bent tupperware? Some plastic utensils and a pot? Aluminum foil? Crayons and paper? Old t-shirts? A parent’s trash is a kid’s treasure.

Books are another amazing resource. And while Amazon is obviously easy and top of mind, it can get expensive to purchase all new books. Even when libraries are closed, many of them provide incredible, FREE e-resources through e-books and e-audiobooks. (Libby is so wonderful!!) This is even true for picture books! Abebooks, Book Outlet, Scribd, and Hoopla are other free or inexpensive book options.

Resources may also look like experiences. Museums, hikes, and trips are all great, but so are virtual versions of those. Can you pull up an online Junior Ranger activity? Could you try out a virtual museum tour? Play a variety of music? Be creative and consider what cheap or free resources you can provide your kids to inspire curiosity. And make sure you have diversity of stories, perspectives, and backgrounds in the resources you seek.

Here’s a fantastic list of kids books to learn about the world!

 

Let Them Be Unengaged

If there’s one thing I feel passionately about, it’s letting kids be unengaged. In other words, let them be bored. But I don’t like using the word bored! Because I’ve found that when kids have opportunities to practice being curious and creative, they are NOT bored. Kids tend to complain about being bored when they’ve grown accustomed to someone else engaging their minds for them.

When kids say they’re bored, what they’re really doing is asking for is help putting in the mental effort to be creative.

But the great thing about kids is that with just a little practice, they get really good at not being bored. With even just a little time spent being unengaged, unscheduled, and unentertained, they become experts at engaging themselves. Bored kids become curious and creative kids.

By allowing them the time to PRACTICE engaging their own minds and imaginations, you’re giving them a great gift. You’re giving them the gift of creativity. You’re raising curious kids.

 

 

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