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Why Does Creativity Matter in Early Childhood Education?

Jan 13, 2024 | Early Childhood

When you hear about how an early childhood program “fosters creativity” what do you imagine?

Finger paint turkeys? Paper chains? Coloring book pages full of scribbles?

All of those activities CAN foster creativity, but so can building a fort, playing with play dough, or banging pots and pans.

What really IS creativity?Kids playing with moldable clay

Its a trait that exists in everyone! Its the act of developing new ideas, solving problems, and thinking about things in new ways.

EVERYONE is creative, just in different ways.

Why is it important?

Will some of our AMPed Learners be the next great artists, musicians, dancers, or actors? Probably! But not all of them. Does that mean creativity doesn’t matter? NO WAY!

Creative people are good problem solvers.

Creative people are able to see things from different perspectives.

Creative people are able to be flexible and adapt when things change.

Learning to see the world in all its colors, not black and white, allows AMPed Learners to become bridge builders, change makers, and the leaders of tomorrow.

Process vs. Product Focused

All those art projects mentioned above like the hand print turkey? They’re product focused. That means there is a specific end goal, a turkey, that looks like the ones the rest of the group is making. Kids still learn and practice skills making these kinds of projects, but they learn MORE when projects are process focused.

That means that “the joy is in the journey”. The goal of the project is to come up with their OWN picture, sculpture, fort design, song, or other creation. A bin of “bits and bobbles,” some glue, and paper allows children to plan, test theories, update their plan, and then be proud of their success.

The problem solving they do when the doll doesn’t fit in the box, the block tower falls down when built on the soft rug, or the marker doesn’t color with the cap on, is valuable beyond just learning to grasp objects and recite the alphabet.

So, how do I encourage creativity in my child?

For infants, the goal is to help them feel nurtured and safe so they are comfortable exploring their environments. Be responsive to them so they can get all the information they can from their surrounding through their 5 senses.

Model creative expression – play music, show them pictures, dance around with them in your arms. Describe what they see or touch. “This blanket feels soft. The blue ball is smooth.” During tummy time, set various toys out in front of them that they can investigate at their own pace. Go “exploring” around the house. Carry them around describing each room, what is in there, what you might do there. Wear your infant in a baby carrier so they can see what is going on around them as you grocery shop, walk your neighborhood, or even fold laundry.

Toddlers are mobile and curious. Help them explore safely.

Encourage them to sing and dance along with music. Identify the objects they encounter and are interested in. “Do you hear that dog barking?” “Oh, you found a pine cone! I bet that fell from a tree nearby.” Help them to make things out of play dough. Creating a “3d model” of a real object uses so many parts of their brain. Let them loose in an area of the house that is safe to explore. The kitchen cabinet that stores your plastic containers, a basket of clean laundry, a low book shelf full of board books.

Leaf and paper art project

Once children are preschool age, they’re ready to create even more. They can work on their skills holding art supplies, stacking things, dancing, and countless other activities.

Create a sensory bin full of beans, rice, sand, water, or any safe substance and let them scoop, pour, and experiment independently. Use puppets or toys to act out stories. Play “store”, “chef”, “firefighter” or any other scenario the child is interested in. Ask open ended questions. “I wonder why the tower keeps falling?” “What would happen if we added MORE blocks?” Encourage all their attempts and promote self reflection. “Wow, what did you draw?” “I can tell you’re working hard on that play dough sculpture. Why did you decide to do it that way?”

At AMPed, creativity means our art projects may be vastly different from one another, but that’s ok because our LEARNERS are vastly different from one another too.

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