LG, Oregon, writes: I was hoping when my grandson went to preschool, he would be interested in art activities, but he wants to spend most of his time playing outside.
Sometimes the very thing we want our children to be interested in is just the thing they avoid! That may come from the child’s responding negatively to a pressure they feel from the adult. This is especially true in creative areas, as creativity needs space, room, opportunity–with time to explore in a non-judgmental atmosphere. “Process” rather than product with young children–no adding our opinions on color, form, etc., etc.
Also, creativity can be expressed in a wide variety of ways, not only art, but in play and later in writing, and in all school subjects (problem solving, generating ideas, innovating).
Social play is a primary interest for young children, and some of the most important experiences they can have. The learning is tremendous—not only learning to give and take, to lead and follow, to play at different roles, to be “creative” in ways to play.
Think of art with young children as one way of self expression, a wonderful outlet that doesn’t require advanced language skills or even fine motor control. There are other ways for young children to express themselves, too, and play is what they love and where they learn how to connect with others and “be creative” in other ways (See “mud, sand, water”)
(My son, age 3, asked me to draw him a turtle. I declined—you’ll have to draw your own turtle. He was persistent, but I continued to defer to him. When he began to draw, he didn’t stop!)
Maybe you can provide some art materials at your home. There are some fun ideas on the internet or bookstores, including ideas from saved paper/cardboard, stickers, photos and catalog/calendar pictures, small blocks of wood or packing materials, etc.
James D. Moran III has an excellent list of ways adults can encourage creativity in children, including avoiding judgment, providing opportunities. (He also explains creativity in the broadest sense.) http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/content2/Creativity_in_kids.html