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Fostering Creativity: The Family Child Care Provider

This lesson highlights the significance of being a creative family child care provider and provides insight on how to promote creativity when engaging with children and families. A key learning point is the importance of self-reflection and collaborative, supportive relationships.

  • Reflect on what it means to be a creative family child care provider.
  • Brainstorm ideas to support families in promoting children’s creativity.
  • Identify how to creatively engage with children and families.


"If you hear a voice within you say, 'You cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and the voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh


How do you nurture and sustain creativity in your personal life? Are there rituals or activities you engage in that make you feel more connected to your creative self? Are there individuals who inspire you to be creative? What are some things that spark your creativity?

How about your professional life? What elements of your work environment make you feel creative? Is it freedom to plan experiences and use materials? Is it having a supportive network of child care professionals? Is it guidance and constructive feedback? Is it sharing concerns, ideas, and brainstorming solutions when situations arise? Is it relationships with children and families?

Educational psychology professor James Kaufman has identified eight elements of the work environment that cultivate creativity:

8 Aspects to Cultivate Creativity

Adequate freedom Adults need the ability to make personal and professional choices. Even though choices can sometimes seem limited, as a family child care provider, there are many situations in which you are able to make choices about what goes on in your program. For example, you can choose materials or organize experiences based on the interests of children in your program. You also can make choices about field trips or family engagement activities?
Challenging work Working with young children can sometimes be challenging. However, challenges are often opportunities for us to come up with creative solutions to problems. Welcome challenges as ways to learn more and strengthen your professional skills.
Appropriate resources We all need tools and resources to do our jobs. Appropriate resources (like planning tools, a resource library, program supplies, and time for planning, reflection, and support) are prerequisites for feeling creative. It is important that you have the tools you need to do your job.
A supportive relationship with a trainer, coach, mentor, or family child care administrator Many of us can identify individuals in our lives who served as mentors, who have inspired us to achieve great things, or who have provided guidance and support when we faced challenges or difficulties. It is important that you have opportunities to regularly meet with your trainer, coach, or family child care administrator to discuss what goes on in your program and to brainstorm, if necessary, solutions to problems. These exchanges are vital to your professional development and allow you to learn and grow.
Diverse and communicative coworkers In your work as a family child care provider, you might feel isolated sometimes. You should find ways to connect with other child care providers or child care professionals. One of the great benefits of being a member of a network of individuals within your community is that you get to know people who engage in similar professional activities, who may have similar interests, and who may be dealing with similar issues, concerns, or challenges in the workplace. Getting to know other family child care providers lets you build connections and friendships that will help you feel motivated and stronger. You can inspire and be inspired by your peers.
Recognition In an ideal situation, good ideas and efforts are recognized. In the same way you would like for your families and fellow child care providers to acknowledge your good efforts and ideas, you should recognize family members or fellow family child care providers who help inspire and aid in your program's success. This may mean recognizing the contributions or help of your back-up provider(s), or the other family child care providers you may partner with.
A sense of cooperation Creative spaces are collaborative spaces. People should feel safe to share ideas — even ideas that they do not think will work. You and your families should have positive communication and cooperation to enhance the care of the children in your program. Providers and family members should build each other up.
A network that supports creativity You are not alone in the quest to cultivate creativity. A truly creative workplace or home environment operates coherently at every level. Your entire program and support network should prioritize and recognize creativity.

In the Explore section of this lesson, you will have an opportunity to reflect on these elements as they relate to your personal experiences in your work.

What Does It Mean to Be a Creative Family Child Care Provider?

What are some of your own views about being a creative family child care provider? Pause for a few moments to think about this.

As you have read in this course, creativity is a crucial part of the human experience. The ability to think creatively helps us rise to challenges, overcome obstacles, and create opportunities. Being creative demonstrates openness to new experiences. These experiences include having a good imagination, valuing feelings, trying new things based on individual interests, and having a curious mindset (Kaufman, 2016).

In Lesson One, you had an opportunity to explore some of your own views on creativity. This lesson extends this exploration by encouraging you to think about creativity in your child care program and ask yourself what it means to be a creative family child care provider.

In your family child care home, you are responsible for creating meaningful experiences that incorporate creativity throughout the day. Being a creative provider can be expressed in a number of different ways. Here are some ways to express creativity:

  • Use everyday materials that might seem useless to spark open-ended creative work
  • Solve space constraints to create supportive learning environments
  • Follow your curiosity
  • Allow yourself to make mistakes
  • Try out new things
  • Be willing to accept new or different perspectives
  • Embrace diversity


Watch the following video to hear a family child care provider reflect on how her creative interests influence activities with children, and why it is important to value creativity when working with children in family child care.

Being a Creative Provider

Provider describes how they use their creativity in work with children


Creativity helps your family child care home feel welcoming, energetic, and nurturing. It helps you engage children and families in a range of meaningful experiences. Consider the following when engaging with children and families in your program.

Engaging with children:

  • Bring your own creative interests, questions, and experiences into your family child care program and share them with children during circle time, exploration time, outside time, field trips, or any other time you think is appropriate.
  • Demonstrate interest and excitement when working with children. Inspire children to be curious and creative by demonstrating these attributes yourself. Play with the possibilities and experiment alongside children.
  • Use children’s backgrounds, experiences, and interests as inspiration for ideas about creative activities in your program.
  • Cultivate a climate of inquiry and love for learning in your program. Encourage children to pose questions. You do not always need to have the answers. Invite children to discover answers to fascinating questions or problems with you.
  • Display children’s three-dimensional constructions, creations, and artwork. You can use simple frames to display artwork at children’s eye level or hang creations throughout your family child care environment using rope, ribbon, and clothespins. Seeing their artwork displayed encourages and inspires children to be creative and gives them a sense of pride in their work.
  • Demonstrate respect for children’s values and opinions. Your example will set the tone for how children view themselves and for how they treat each other.

Engaging with families:

  • Families can be your program’s window into culturally responsive experiences. Invite families to share art, music, food, and celebrations that are meaningful to them.
  • Invite family members to come to your program and share with children some of their own creative endeavors or observe and participate in some of your creative activities.
  • Ask families to donate everyday household items they do not need to your program to support the creative experiences of children.
  • Encourage families to nurture exploration and creativity at home by explaining the developmental benefits of activities and offering simple ways to extend some of your program experiences.

Engaging with peers:

  • Share your interests and talents with other family child care providers during provider meetings or trainings and explain how these interests drive some of the experiences you create for children in your program. Get to know the people who work in your community on a personal level.
  • Exchange ideas with other colleagues or providers in your community about experiences that foster creativity. Invite a fellow provider to come to your program, observe some of your activities, and give you feedback. Offer to do the same for them.
  • Ask a trainer, coach, or family child care administrator to come and observe your program so they can offer feedback about your use of creative experiences and materials.
  • Acknowledge colleagues who are doing great things, who offer you guidance and constructive feedback, and who inspire you to strive for excellence and creativity.


What aspects of your work environment foster your creativity? In the Learn section of this lesson, you were introduced to eight elements of the work environment that have been identified to cultivate creativity. In this section, you have an opportunity to reflect on how some of these elements foster your own creativity.

Read and review the Creativity in My Work Environment activity and brainstorm how these elements relate to your personal experience when it comes to your own work environment. Share your thoughts with your trainer, coach, or family child care administrator.


In this section, there are two attachments with sample letters you can send to children’s families with information about creative experiences in family child care and at home. As you read these letters, think about what you share with families of children in your care about creative experiences in your family child care program. Discuss your thoughts about these letters with your trainer, coach, or family child care administrator and consider sharing with your families.


Which of the following supports you in your endeavor to be a creative family child care provider?
True or false? Being a creative family child care provider sometimes means that you will make mistakes.
You would like to present ideas at the next family night on how families can support their children’s creativity. Which of the following statements would you not share with families?
References & Resources

Beghetto, R. A., & Kaufman, J. C. (Eds.). (2016). Nurturing creativity in the classroom. Cambridge University Press.

Kaufman, J. C. (2016). Creativity 101 (2nd ed.). Springer Publishing Company.

Miller, D. (2015). Cultivating creativity. The English Journal, 104(6), 25-30.

Pelo, A. (2016). The language of art: Inquiry-based studio practices in early childhood settings (2nd ed.). Redleaf Press.

Robinson, K. (2009). The element: How finding your passion changes everything. Penguin Group.

Trawick-Smith, J. W. (2018). Early childhood development: A multicultural perspective (7th ed.). Pearson.

Zevin, J. (2013). Creative teaching for all: In the box, out of the box, and off the walls. Rowman & Littlefield.