nurturing creativity in preschoolers??

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-14-2003
nurturing creativity in preschoolers??
5
Thu, 05-15-2003 - 8:39pm
Hi--new here (although I have lurked in the past). I have a 4.5 year old who is very intelligent (just my unbiased opinion!). His language skills are excellent---and he loves to read. Actually, he loves it when we read to him--and he is reading very simple 3-5 letter words by himself as well. Anyway---he definitely seems to be a very concrete, literal and linear thinker (I know he's only 4.5--and most kids this age must be the same). He doesn't seem to really engage in imaginative play very much--unless we prompt him to do so. He loves Thomas the Tank Engine trains--and has a complete set of trains and tracks--we work together to build elaborate sets--and then I try to encourage him to have the trains act out different stories---but he is very reluctant to do so. If, however, I start him out--by setting up the plot, etc...then he is very happy to go along with it--but again, he needs a lot of direction and prompting from me. Even so--his "dramatizing" is very concrete and tends to revolve around "and Thomas will pick up the coal tenders while Edward takes the passengers, etc" I have tried to ask him why Thomas is picking up coal tenders, etc...but he resists such questions--and becomes irritable. He loves putting the tracks together (they don't always go anywhere!) and just pushing the trains around. I'd like the trains to provide a little more stimulating play than that!

From an early age he has "let" us/"required" us to show him how to do many things--once we show him something- a few times-then he will try it--unless it's difficult or challenging. (In contrast--his 21 month old brother is very persistent--and will persevere at a task no matter how monotonous or difficult). His younger brother is constantly using toys in novel ways (ex. using a toy frying pan as a tennis racket)--and my older DS is quick to follow his example but rarely initiates such activities. He has an excellent memory--and I sometimes wonder if this hampers his imagination. It's as if his strong memories of the past prevent him from "seeing/imagining" other stories or other uses for things. Does that make sense?

He loves having stories read to him--but he hates it when we ask him to make up a story to tell us. Even with much prompting and assistance, etc....he gets VERY UPSET---and would prefer to just have us "tell" him a story. When we read stories to him he gets very upset if we "interrupt" to ask questions about the characters or their actions. Somehow I feel like this must also relate to his inability/reluctance to engage in problem-solving. If something is proving difficult (getting his jacket on, getting his toys into his bike basket, etc...)--he gets frustrated very easily and immediately starts fussing, whining, wailing or all the above-AAAAGGH!

Sorry to babble on so much--but my question is---are there any books that you can recommend --which will help us learn strategies to nurture creativity and imaginative thinking skills in our preschool age son? Because he doesn't enjoy being "put on the spot"--we have stopped interrupting his stories to ask him about the characters, we have stopped asking him to tell us stories, we have stopped asking him to play along with imaginative games. But I know we really are doing him a disservice. Any suggestions?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-10-2003
Fri, 05-16-2003 - 12:29am
If he were my child, I would put in in preschool half a day or find him a play group of children playing together. I would also remove pieces from the Thomas the Tank set (if that is his favorite toy for imaginative play.) Take away the main trains and substitute some Lionel ones with batteries, or tell him a story where zoo animals escape and interact with the trains(if you have plastic zoo animal figures.) My ds(3yr11months) likes to play that dragons fly by the train tracks, or I hear him say, "And then Spiderman comes, pyoo pyoo..."

About interrupting a story to ask questions and upsetting your son, what about just going along and ask him questions about animals in nature you see pass? Or about what he'd do if he had a big motorcycle(next time you see one.)

I have found more preschoolers engaging in imaginitive play than not engaging in it. Maybe your son is a late bloomer or a mathematician? I wouldn't worry about it. Chances are, when his brother gets to the stage where he plays with another child rather than unilaterally, your older ds will become quite imaginative. Jmo, fwiw.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Fri, 05-16-2003 - 10:53am
Hello :0) I too have a 4 1/2 year son who LOVES Thomas the tank engine. I have found that with my son, he will use his imagination with ONLY the things that he is interested in. For example he loves and enjoys playing with hot wheels and Thomas, but could care less about playing with a pirate ship or the farm(so therefore he doesn't pretend with those). Ok, I must admit that sometimes he will play with the farm animals, but not the way other 4 years old might. He will load them all in the truck and the trailer and pull them around, and doesn't really play with the barn at all. He will play with the animals, but not to the extent that I have seen others play. BUT, with his Thomas or hot wheels, he will play and build and imagine. He builds car washes(with blocks) for the cars and then the engines use it too. We have a large Thomas table that he uses for his set(we change around once a month) and then we also have a lot of extra track and buildings(that would not fit on the table..LOL) that he can use to build whatever set he wishes. Sometimes the sets that he builds are large and every piece connects into each other and other times it may be a smaller set that doesn't even connect.

I too have tried to get him to "play out the story" from one of his Thomas books or to make up his own story about what Thomas might be doing. He doesn't seem to be interested in doing that...he wants to play with his engines and the set in his own way. And honestly, I think that is ok. I try to look at it this way...although he is not playing and imagining the way "I" would like him to do, he IS STILL using his imagination by playing in his own way. He still uses the buildings and pretends that the trains are picking up barrels or that the train has stopped at the water station to get a drink of water because he was thirsty. So, he is still using his imagination just in another way. It just may not be as detailed as we, the parents, would like or think it should be.

But on the other hand, he will play with his grocery cart and pretend to be in a store shopping, putting all the items in his cart and then the cashier(me) rings up the items and he pays for it. So, the imaginiation is still working and exploring.

I know with my son, his doctor has told me that he is very advanced for his age. Maybe that plays a part in the way he imagines in his play...I don't know. But, I can tell you that most of time he does act differently than his peers in several ways. This might be another aspect that is just going to be a little different than normal or maybe he is just a little behind in this area. Whatever the reason, he does still play and use the imagination to explore.

The only advice I have is maybe just listen to any stories that he might try to tell you. Try not to ask questions in the middle of the story, since he doesn't like to be interrupted. Maybe any questions can come and the end of the story. Maybe do the same when reading him a story as well. Can he retell a story after having it read to him? If he can then that is great, but if not maybe you can work on that with him. That might help with the story telling skills. If he can, after reading the book, ask him to retell you the story(it might be a very very short version of the story) and once he does that...make sure to tell him that he just told you a story and really make a big deal out of it.

Anyway, I am sorry that I have babbled way to long. Try not to worry, he will come around in his own time frame.

Good luck.

Joy

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Fri, 05-16-2003 - 4:37pm
Hi again. Sorry for ringing in again, but I thought of a suggestion.

Has your son visited any art musuems? If so, did he like them? The reason I am asking is because my son took an art class at our local art museum and the teacher took the children to look at different kinds of art. While looking at the art, my son noticed that out beside the painting there was someting written about the piece of art. He was so taken with that idea, that he wanted to come home and paint. When he was finished with his painting, I asked him to tell me a story about the painting. I then typed up the story on the computer and underneath it I put "story by...his name and the date". We then hung it up on the wall with the story beside it...just like they do at the art musuem(which of course he beemed with happiness).

My son really liked that idea, so I thought that it might help your son start to enjoy making up and telling stories.

Good luck

Joy

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-14-2003
Fri, 05-16-2003 - 8:19pm
Ladies--thank you for the great ideas! BTW---my son is in preschool--half days/five days a week. He is in a Montessori based preschool which supports his linear, organized (as organized as a 4.5 y/o can be!), analytical mind---but which may not emphasize his wild and crazy side-lol!

Anyway, believe it or not--I worry a lot less than I used to--about his development, etc...I used to neurotocize about it all the time (I'm a SAHM--what can I say?!). Thankfully, his younger brother monopolizes all my time---no more time to be anxiety girl. Anyway--I will try the things you all suggested. Thanks so much!

Maggie

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 05-21-2003 - 11:46am
Hi Maggie! You got a lot of great ideas! I just wanted to add that the best way to nurture creativity is to give the resources and allow him to create. Get lots of glue, paper, glitter, cut outs, yarm, markers, crayons, scissors, etc. Read a book and let his imagination go! =)

Welcome, and let us know how things go!! =)

Janet =)

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