Why creativity is so important for children…
‘Children are naturally creative. It is our job to give them the freedom, materials and space to let their creativity blossom to its full potential.’ -Jean Van’t Hul author of ‘The Artful parent’
I believe that as humans we have an innate desire to create, to explore, to discover and to take from those explorations the materials we find and change them into something meaningful-not only to us personally, but in order to communicate our inner feelings to others.
That is why art and creativity is so vital - especially for children. Children seem to sense this need and will yearn to feed it as much as they can. Whether on the football pitch, in the playground or at the kitchen table. In a world that seems to be built for the adult, children may become lost and struggle to navigate themselves using vocabulary. Through creative forms (visual arts, dance, music, drama etc.) they have an extra avenue to express themselves: without boundaries or fear of correction.
When I worked as a teaching assistant, it was so very clear to me the absolute need for creativity within a child’s day; a space set aside where they could just “be”; where they could reach within themselves and pull out something unique. With so much emphasis placed upon attainment within education, following rules and checking boxes, it often doesn’t leave much room for child to just breath.
Our brains need time to relax in order to be more productive and process the information we have inputted during the day; if adequate time is not given to be still, be inspired or be creative, then our minds will struggle to keep functioning at the rate that they are expected to. Learning to be creative, in whatever capacity, is just as important a skill for a child to learn than recalling times tables, learning to read or writing an essay.
Creativity and creative play have many benefits: intellectual, physical, social, emotional and communicative to name just a few. When engaged in a creative process (no matter at what level), a young child can build on their math skills by exploring number, shape, size and repeated patterns. They can learn to focus and concentrate, to complete directed tasks as well as learn problem solving skills through exploring creatively. Physically they develop fine motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination as they experiment with a variety of different creative methods. As they have opportunities to explore materials and discover new things about them, they begin to build connections; they start to understand more fully and make sense of the world around them. Children can become more emotionally aware through creative practise and learn to express themselves more effectively.
Being able to express themselves in whatever direction their heart takes them in, means that the child develops emotionally as well as socially. As they are given freedom to express their feelings in their unique way, they gain a better sense of self (yes, even at a very young age). I feel that helping our children to become more aware of self is among one of the most important lessons we can help our children to discover. When they can be free to creatively explore and express themselves appropriately, they are then able to be free to just “be”. (Recently I found an interesting article that some may be interested to read that echoes these very ideas. Enjoy! https://novakdjokovicfoundation.org/importance-creative-arts-ece/)
Rebecca Abery is an illustrator, mum and an advocate for enabling all children in their creativity.
She is owner of 'Sketches In Time' - where moments truly do matter