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Fostering Creativity: The Infant and Toddler Caregiver

This lesson highlights the significance of being a creative infant-and-toddler caregiver and provides insights on how to promote creativity when engaging with infants, toddlers, families, and colleagues. A key learning point is the importance of self-reflection and collaborative, supportive relationships.

  • Identify ways to nurture creativity in your personal life.
  • Reflect on what it means to be a creative infant and toddler caregiver.
  • Brainstorm on how to creatively engage with infants, toddlers, families, and colleagues.



How do you nurture and sustain your own creativity? 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? 

What 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 supportive coworkers and supervisors? Is it guidance and constructive feedback from colleagues or supervisors? Is it sharing concerns and 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. 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 the infant and toddler early care and learning setting.

8 Aspects to Cultivate Creativity

Adequate freedom Adults need the ability to make personal and professional choices. Though choices can sometimes seem limited, are there some situations in which you can make choices about what goes on in your early care and learning setting? For example, how about choosing materials, or organizing experiences based on the interests of the infants and toddlers in your care?
Challenging work Working with infants and toddlers can sometimes be challenging. As you have been reading in this course, 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, resource libraries, classroom 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 supervisor We can all 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 supervisor to discuss what goes on in your classroom 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 One of the great benefits of being a member of a team of individuals at work is that you get to know people who engage in similar professional activities with you, who may have similar interests as you, and who may be dealing with similar issues, concerns, or challenges in the workplace. Getting to know your colleagues enables you to build connections and friendships that will help you feel motivated and stronger. You can inspire others and be inspired by your colleagues!
Recognition Positive, creative ideas and efforts should be recognized. In the same way your supervisors acknowledge good efforts and ideas, you can recognize colleagues or supervisors who help inspire and lead your team to success.
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. Team members can support one another and build upon each other's creative ideas.
An organization that supports creativity You are not alone in the quest to cultivate creativity. A truly creative workplace operates coherently at every level. Your entire team should prioritize and recognize creativity.

What Does it Mean To Be a Creative Infant and Toddler Caregiver?

What are some of your own views about being a creative infant and toddler caregiver? Pause for a few moments to think about this.

As you have been working through this course, you likely recognized that creativity is a crucial part of the human experience. The ability to think creatively helps us rise to challenges, overcome obstacles, and create opportunities. Creativity is important because it demonstrates openness to new experiences. These experiences include having a good imagination, experiencing and 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 will extend on this exploration by encouraging you to think about creativity in your workplace and what it means to be a creative infant and toddler caregiver.

In your work with infants, toddlers, and families, you are responsible for creating meaningful experiences that incorporate creativity throughout the day. Being a creative caregiver can be expressed in several different ways. Here are some to consider:

  • Use everyday materials that might seem useless to spark creative work in your early care and learning setting
  • Solve space constraints to create beautiful environments for you and the infants and toddlers in your classroom
  • Follow your curiosity
  • Allow yourself to make mistakes
  • Try new things
  • Accept new or different perspectives
  • Embrace diversity


Watch the following video to hear infant and toddler caregivers discuss ways adults can encourage young children to build upon their interests.

Caregiver Creativity

Infants and toddlers take their cues from you.


Creativity helps you become part of a workplace community that feels welcoming, energetic, and nurturing. It helps you engage infants, toddlers, families, and colleagues in a range of meaningful experiences. Consider the following when engaging with infants, toddlers, families, and colleagues in your program.

Engaging with children:

  • Bring your own creative interests, questions, and experiences to your care setting.
  • Demonstrate interest and excitement when working with infants and toddlers. Inspire them to be curious and creative by demonstrating these attributes yourself. Play with the possibilities and experiment alongside the children.
  • Use infants' and toddlers' backgrounds, experiences, and interests as inspiration for ideas about creative activities in your early care and learning environment.
  • Cultivate a climate of curiosity and love for exploration and experimentation in your classroom. Invite infants and toddlers to discover answers to fascinating questions or problems with you.

Engaging with families:

  • Invite family members to come to your setting and share some of their own creative endeavors with infants and toddlers.
  • Invite families to observe and participate in some of your creative experiences and activities.
  • Ask families to bring in everyday household items they do not need to support your creative experiences with infants and toddlers.
  • Encourage families to nurture exploration and creativity at home by explaining the developmental benefits of activities and offering simple ways to incorporate learning into their home environment.

Engaging with colleagues:

  • Share your interests and talents with colleagues during staff meetings, lunch breaks, or in-service days. Share how these interests drive some of the experiences you create for infants and toddlers in your care. Get to know the people you work with on a personal level.
  • Exchange ideas with colleagues about experiences that foster creativity. Invite a colleague to come to your room, observe some of your activities, and give you feedback. Offer to do the same for your colleagues as well.
  • Ask a trainer, coach, or administrator to come and observe your early care and learning environment so they can offer you 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 be creative.


Download the handout, Reflecting on the Workplace. Take time to reflect on the eight elements of the work environment that cultivate creativity. Think about these characteristics in relation to your personal experiences in the infant and toddler care and learning environment. Then, share and discuss your responses with a trainer, coach, or administrator.


As highlighted throughout this course, creativity can help us come up with solutions to our everyday issues and challenges. Download the handout Creative Solutions. Use this handout to identify a challenge or problem you are facing today and consider new, creative ways to solve the problem that you have not tried before. Share your ideas with your trainer, coach, or administrator.


True or False? When you take risks to plan creative experiences for infants and toddlers, it means that sometimes you may make mistakes.
Which of the following helps encourage creativity in your workplace?
Finish this statement: Being a creative caregiver means …
References & Resources

Beghetto, R. A., & Kaufman, J. C. (Eds.). (2016). Nurturing creativity in the classroom (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Hogan, J., Jaquith, D., & Gould, L. (2020). Shifting perceptions of quality in art education. Art Education, 73(4), 8–13.

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

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.