"As parents take the time to bring creativity to the surface and show it has value, children will develop their talents," say Melisande and Daniel Potter. "The fantasy world and academic world can co-exist."

To encourage children's creativity, the Potters suggest that you:

Recognize children's need to have a secret world and to enjoy fantasy play.

Try an easy drama theme if children feel inhibited. Perhaps characters they are studying in history. Once they have the seed of an idea, they are free to elaborate.

Take the time to discuss their schoolwork and to help them see beyond the abstract things they are learning. Vocabulary words, for example, can be acted out.

Take them to the theater, but also encourage them to develop their own theater at home.

Remember most toys can be vehicles for fantasy; it is all in how you deal with them. (Despite her distaste for Barbie dolls, Melisande says she has found they, too, can be fantasy characters.)

Use TV for the valuable programs it offers, but don't let it become a companion.

Don't forget the simple refrigerator carton as a favorite vehicle for fantasy, turned into a house, or provate place.

Save cardboard, paper bags, cloth scraps as inexpensive and useful art materials.

Give children a place where they are allowed to make a mess, with the understanding that it has to be cleaned up. Their rooms can be their own special places where they can arrange their own furniture, make their own decorations and perhaps build a puppet theater.