Parents can encourage children to invent in numerous ways, including engaging different types of thinking, supporting children's inventions, making time and space for creation and providing different supplies to encourage creativity. Even if children's initial "inventions" don't amount to much, it's important to recognize that they are the products of serious thought and experimentation.
Invention takes different types of thinking, all of which parents can encourage. Critical thinking, the ability to break a problem down into separate parts, can be encouraged through sorting, comparing and classifying, whether it's building blocks or leaves in the yard.
Fluent thinking, or brainstorming ideas, can easily be encouraged by having kids generate ideas, such as different ways to get to school or all the items of a certain color.
It’s also important for parents to support kids' inventions through encouragement, observation and questioning. Kids should be allowed to take the lead, but parents should also ask opened-ended questions that help kids think about how and why they've made certain choices in creating something.
Parents also need to provide time, space and materials for invention. Offer kids creative time that functions outside of homework or outdoor time. Provide a wide range of art and construction materials, from glue, scissors and construction paper to less conventional choices like aluminum foil, mirrors or recycled materials.