Erin Foster

A Professional Musician On How She Nurtures Her Daughter's Sense Of Creativity

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A creative mind is a mind without limits. It’s larger than life — imagining, inventing, and investigating things in ways that practical thinking doesn’t always allow for. But when it comes to kids, creativity isn’t always inherent; sometimes it’s learned through activities that challenge and inspire. If it counts as creative expression, you can count on it being good for your child — so cheer them on, and join in! When little ones see the adults in their lives opening their minds and daring to dream, they’re that much more inclined to try it for themselves.

This concept is especially forefront for Anna, a classical musician and mother to 5-year-old Grace. Anna’s own mother started her on the piano at age 3 and she’s been playing ever since. At age 12, she picked up the harp, and ever since then she's felt like her instruments are appendages that she can’t picture life without.

Erin Foster

But being a studious musician didn’t make it easy to relate to her less laser-focused peers — and that’s where Anna found Samantha, the American Girl character who helped her build confidence in her artistic abilities and become comfortable in her own skin. Flash forward to today, and Anna still relies on the very same brand to help her daughter think outside the box, practice free thinking, and grow through imaginative play. Grace's current favorite is Nanea, a character who grew up during World War Two and models the importance of helping others and sticking to your principles.

To get a better glimpse at how she nurtures her daughter's creativity, Romper spent some time with Anna and Grace — and the takeaways learned were too good not to share:

It's OK To Lean Into Nostalgia

Erin Foster

Your kid already thinks you're cool, and that means they’ll definitely get a kick out of hearing about when you were their age, and the kinds of things you enjoyed doing. So go ahead and reminisce, knowing they are likely to be inspired by your creative playtime journey.

“I still have my original Samantha!" Anna tells Romper. "I kept the doll in a glass case and gave it to Grace earlier than I thought I would. The dolls are relatable, teach a lot about different backgrounds, different periods in history, and provide good role models for her."

Do Everything You Can To Expand Their Horizons

Erin Foster

You’re probably already getting an idea of the things your kids are gravitating toward creatively, but don't let that stop you from encouraging them to try new and challenging things. You never know what they might latch onto, and even if they don’t end up liking a new creative pursuit, at least they’ve tried something new and used their minds in a way they might not have otherwise.

“I'm very open to trying a lot of different things with a lot of different mediums. With art, you can use acrylics, pastels, watercolors ... with music, you can use different instruments," Anna says. "I encourage Grace to keep trying different things and not to be discouraged if things don’t turn out the way she imagined, because sometimes they turn out even better! There are no mistakes in being creative.”

Don’t Underestimate The Power Of The Imagination

Erin Foster

Maybe creativity comes naturally to your child, and maybe they need a little more encouraging. Either way, providing them with the tools they need to be inspired will set their imaginations up for success. You might just end up being inspired yourself! Sometimes Anna finds Grace constructing imaginative plots and scenarios during free play, and other times, she bases them on real-life experiences.

“I overhear Grace talking to her dolls about things that we discuss. She’s very creative with the storylines she comes up with — that’s all her. She’s more creative than I am! As an adult, that creativity becomes harder to channel, and that’s why I want her to do that as much as possible.”

Make Creativity A Priority

American Girl’s 1941 historical character, Nanea Mitchell, shows girls the importance of doing good for others.

Whether or not creativity runs second-nature in your family, it's crucial to make time for it. Encourage it and prioritize it for yourself and your family in all forms. Creative thinking is always a work in progress, and if you start your family young, it's sure to carry through all ages and well into adulthood.

“Being creative is foundational for life because no matter if you’re in the arts or another career, you have to think outside the box and experiment. I love the idea that creativity isn’t bound to the fine or performing arts, that it’s a huge part of life no matter what you do.”

This post is sponsored by American Girl.

Photographer: Erin Foster; Makeup Artist: Dre Brown; Hair Stylist: Sammy LaCombe; Art Director: Julie Vaccaro; Producer: Kat Fry; Editor: Suzanne McKenzie