Stand back, away from the scene in your living room or backyard, and watch as kids build forts. What do you see? A castle? Rocket? An artist’s studio, secret hideaway or a starry observatory? Look closer. What else do you see? Laughter? Busy hands? Imaginative play? Relationship building? Mental wheels turning? Quiet solitude? The experience of fort building spans generations and brings with it amusement and without-a-thought learning. Why? Forts offer the perfect haven for inspiring creativity. And, the effects of this one quality reaches far and wide in the lives of children.
Forts provide the resources and atmosphere for creative expression. Fort building offers a place to make a constructive mess. Kids can brainstorm and dream without evaluation, as well as fail. Yes, you read that correctly. Fort building is a way to celebrate innovation and discover freedom and autonomy from usual constraints. It encourages children to leave the screen behind, express thoughts and find solutions to problems. These characteristics just happen to be the ones that foster creativity.
You might wonder what role creativity plays in the life of your child if he is not to be a painter, or she shows no interest in dance? Typically, we associate creativity with the arts alone. How limited our view can be! Today’s classroom is changing. In the larger picture, specific skill sets prove less desirable than creativity. Why? This important quality gives children and adults the ability to adapt. This ability to innovate and dream up new ideas and solutions prepares kids for life. In fact, a survey of executives found creativity to be the most valuable business skill in the modern workplace.
While the way creativity impacts lessons in art, music, theater and other artistic pursuits seems obvious, the same holds true for core subjects as well. Think about it for a moment. Math defines itself as problem-solving. Reading enters the world of imagination. Science uses brainstorming to identify hypotheses and solutions. Yes, creativity enhances learning across the board. Plus, a more creative approach to a teaching atmosphere draws naturally curious kids to explore subjects without a thought to school. In other words, it inspires kids to learn. After all, isn’t it just more fun?
You may have the understanding that anxiety hinders creativity, but did you know that creative pursuits offer therapy to the overwrought? Studies reveal that even in cases of extreme trauma, artistic activities such as drawing, coloring or sculpting soothe agitated lower brain centers. As a parent, this means that difficult days might require you to pull out the coloring book and crayons for yourself.
What about your child? Do you recognize that children express worry and stress as well? Surprisingly to some, the coping strategy kids most often use in times of stress includes engaging in activity or play. In fact, over half the time, this solution is the one chosen by children. It seems that kids instinctively know the best ways to reduce stress. Grab a Fort Magic kit and get busy. If they struggle to find a helpful activity on one particularly stressful day, dump out those sticks and connectors to get them started. Creativity and its sister quality, productivity, takes adults and children away from their stressors. How? Perhaps the focus lifts us out of our anxious thoughts. Or, maybe it just puts things into perspective. Either way, it works for both children and adults. So, if your day proves stressful, stop what you are doing. Forget all arguments and join your kids in building a castle fort or a rocket ship to explore the stars. You may just be surprised by how it turns your day around.
What seems to be a natural fallout of all this learning and stress reduction? Confidence. The creative process involved in fort building boosts your kids’ self-assurance. Problem-solving proves to be just one form of creativity. The ability to think up solutions to failed fort ideas (or the dog always invading the fort) forms creative thought processes. As children move to remedy successfully forts that do not stand, creations that get blown away by the wind or a pesky brother, they build confidence. Yes, forts prove to kids that they can achieve goals – no matter how small!
And, if parents guard against jumping in with solutions or unnecessary constraints, successful fort building and negotiations bolster self-assurance further. After all, isn’t one of a toddler’s personal claims, “All by myself!” Step back again and watch. What do you see this time? Look past the actual fort shape and the noisy mess or lack thereof. Do you recognize the signs of that growing confidence in your child? The stress released from his shoulders? The expansion of her mind? It seems to be a good day to build a fort.
How do you and your family use fort building kits for kids to inspire creativity and express yourselves? Share your ideas with us in the comments section below!
Happy Creative Fort Building! 🙂
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Babble Dabble Do Blog: One of our absolute favorite blogs for learning, art, and hands-on education. The Babble Dabble Do blog will inspire hours of creativity and awesomely-educational playtime in your home. A must see blog for sure.