Get Your Creative Juices Flowing!
Young children are naturally curious – they inherently want to explore new things, create, make discoveries, imagine, and problem solve. Simply put, they want to be creative. And, because creativity leads to further learning and development, parents and teachers alike should provide opportunities that support creativity at home and in the classroom.
There is room for creativity in almost everything – from music and the arts to math and language; creativity is often the key to success. When creativity is fostered at a young age, children grow into more creative learners and thinkers, making them more successful at school in years to come. Perhaps this is best proven when we consider how adults likewise thrive when they develop and use creative solutions in the workplace. Whether an adult invents a new product, creates a new way to promote sales or open their own business, creativity is often at the root of their success. After all, how many job descriptions have you read that ask for “a thinker with little to no creative skills”?
The good news is that promoting and supporting creativity in early learners can be both simple and fun. Coloring, painting, banging on a pot with a wooden spoon, allowing kids to create their own math problems, “write” their own stories, build a fort out of blankets, or dance to their favorite tunes are all everyday activities that promote creativity while simultaneously allowing children to work on various academic, social, motor and sensory skills.
Ways to Support Creativity in Young Children
There are numerous ways parents and teachers can support creativity in children.
- Focus should be on the process involved in a task or project – and not the end result. For example, adults need to encourage the steps children take when creating or problem solving rather than being concerned about where and how the project will end. Children learn a great deal by being afforded the opportunity to experience things in a hands-on manner and often, mistakes they make along the way encourage additional and valuable learning.
- Adults should keep in mind that everyone’s final product – whether it’s drawing a butterfly or decorating a cookie – can be different. Children see color, beauty and the world around them in unique and varied ways; those differences should and need to be celebrated.
- Listen to what children have to say and go from there – parents and teachers should work hard not to impose what they know to be the easiest solution or quickest way to accomplish a particular task. Rather, they should take the time to hear ideas and then support children while they act upon those ideas.
- Use everyday problems that arise to prompt and support creativity – if a heavy bucket needs to be filled with water, for example, share the challenge with your little one(s) and allow them to make suggestions about how to go about transferring liquid from one place to another.
- Be sure to provide children with time! When kids are first given materials, they may all gravitate to the same way to handle them or solve a problem. When additional time is allowed, however, many children will come up with unorthodox solutions, thinking out of the box and really getting their creativity flowing.
When creativity is supported and ideas are encouraged in early childhood learning, young children learn how to solve problems and feel safe to explore new things. This, in turn, will encourage lifelong learners and happier children and really, shouldn’t this be every parent and teacher’s goal?