Sunday, 23 February 2014

What Does it Mean to be Truly Creative?

When we consider creativity in the early years, what do we actually mean?  If I were asked to distill this into one word,  I would use the word 'choice.'  It is allowing young children the freedom to choose what, how, when and where they can be creative.  Partly it is about 'making stuff'; using a variety of media and materials to explore with sometimes culminating in an end product.

For me, the important part in 'making stuff' comes in the exploration.  Young children delight in using their senses to fully appreciate the experience.  Another key word here is 'variety.' This is where those open-ended resources really come into their own.  In my experience, children become more fully engaged in activities and experiences using more open-ended resources.  For example what else can children use other than paint? We have opted for many variations on this lots of which are free such as mud, water and foodstuffs. The latter included, quite recently, some left over home made tomato sauce.  Not only was it a good substitute for red paint but, with the garlic I had added in, it smelled great too; something which provoked discussion and intrigue.

Being creative is not solely about producing, what I term as, 'creations.'  It is also about freedom of expression.  The dictionary definition stated here is important:-

Relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work.
(Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2013.)

The two operative words here being 'imagination' and 'original.'  It is about children using their own ideas; it is child-led in it's purest form i.e. free from interference from adults.  The latter can be hard to achieve.  We must, as adults, resist the temptation to impose our own ideas.  This may be easier said than done as, in planning, we often have a preconceived idea of what the outcome of a particular activity might be.  Allowing children to 'get on with it' frees us up, as observers, to study what the children are really getting out of an activity.  In short, we should stand back and let the children's imaginations to run wild.  Children are generally far more imaginative than adults are and we should revel in this creativity whether it is in producing 'art', making up a song or story or wiggling around like the worm they have just spotted in the flowerbed.  



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