There are days we are playing a lot with my one-year-old baby, reading a lot, singing, dancing and learning new words and colors. However, there are days we do not do anything. We just spend our day together, eating sleeping and going for a walk. In such day I could not stop thinking that although we had fun together, it was an absolutely useless day – I did not do anything useful for my baby, I did not DEVELOP her. I am constantly asking other moms about development games, development toys, and development books and so on. Then, I stopped for once and asked myself, what do I want to develop in my child? What is really important to cultivate? To help her with?
When I started to think about it, reading and searching, I understood that there is one thing I should and could help her with: I want to help my child to develop creativity. Why creativity? When I was looking for the definition, I found almost all researchers define creativity as a mix of several components: imagination, originality (ability to explore new and unconventional ideas), problem-solving, flexibility and open mind, motivation, and collaboration with others.
Some people say that creativity is like a gift, an inborn talent. All children are different (and indeed they are) but all of them have creative potential, you just need to know where to look for it. Helen Hadani from a Center for Childhood Creativity describes creativity as a renewable resource that can be nurtured and developed. In order to blossom, creativity requires a certain environment and encouragement.
Time to be creative
Time is one of the key resources. Kids need sufficient and sustained periods of time for unstructured, unsupervised imaginary play. It is time for a child to decide what activity to choose, not for a planned, highly structured or adult-led activity.
Place to express ideas
The next important resource is space. Both physically and emotionally safe place where a child can relax and dive into a creative process. It can be a specific place in the house like a playroom or garage as well as any space outdoor. Nature inspires child’s imagination not less than sophisticated devices. Play with water, sand, as well as open-ended toys, leaving endless possibilities for play.
Encouragement to explore
Although the play is the most important ingredient, children need some guidance and encouragement. When left to their own toys, play becomes a repetitive routine. Therefore, adults are an important part of this play and their role is to stimulate problem-solving through play. Another role is to encourage a child, to support him and to motivate to explore unknown, not to be afraid to come up with an uncommon solution. For example, the child lacks self-confidence and do not think she has anything valuable to offer.
When to start to nurture creativity?
I was surprised by findings of Karen S. Meador research, that show creativity declines in an age of 5-6 years, apparently, children are more creative before they enter kindergarten. Caroline Sharp of the NEFR in her article “Developing young children’s creativity: what can we learn from research?”, raises a question what is a reason behind it: is it a natural consequence of child maturing or an impact of the kindergarten. Therefore, it is important to identify creativity components in young children and not to wait till some educational system will do it for your child.