The safety and well being of the kids at our day care is our primary responsibility as providers. We are not however merely babysitters, nor referees at some chaotic miniature wrestling event (though often times it feels that way) but facilitators, entrusted with the important task of nurturing and developing the whole child. Encouraging creativity and imagination is a vital aspect of this facilitation role. Opening the door to various creative outlets will ensure that children will lead a richer more complete life. Here are some pointers on opening those doors.
Expose kids to the arts, culture and beauty whenever possible will help them to grow to appreciate and recognize same. When possible arrange brief visits to the art gallery, museum or craft fair so that kids get an overview of different forms of art. Try to arrange trips to see plays or musical performances, simply play different types of music at the day care and get the kids moving and dancing. Get out on nature walks to show the kids first hand the natural beauty surrounding them, introduce sand and water for experimental play and discover the multitude of creative activities available in the kitchen. Read and encourage reading. Stories at story time can become rambling yarns that become plays that take on a life of their own. Anything goes.
Kids have a natural, inbuilt love of music. Get the musical instruments out (improvise with household items if necessary), let them rock out (suffer the headache... it's a good cause!) Get a sing-song going and make up new words, act out the songs and help make music come alive as an organic, malleable instrument. The subsequent endeavors may well be dubious (songs that are vaguely punk rockish rather than melodious, artistic attempts that resemble vomit) but all expression should be praised and discussed.
Creative play tends towards the messy end of the scale... let it be so. Order is not a concept that sits well with creative spirits so, difficult though it may be to see your impeccable playroom descend into chaos, try to rise above it. You can attempt to minimize some of the damage by using aprons, laying newspaper or spreading a tarp. Let them off with their creative processes and don't try to direct their efforts. Every work of art is personal and meaningful and should be the direct result of freedom of expression, even for toddlers. Ask questions, encourage discussion, help with a particular process should they ask and never criticize.
Many and wondrous are the benefits of imaginative and creative play. Experimentation with verbal skills is likely as children feel less threatened in imaginary situations. Active problem solving and expression of fears or concerns are also encouraged via role play. A child will grow in confidence as his heretofore untapped talents are released through creative endeavors. Welcome to the magical land of the imagination where boredom is no more!