How often have you heard someone lament that their child isn’t creative or noticed a parent casting furtive glances around the classroom to see how their child’s artwork compares to others?
That’s because as adults, we tend to narrow the concept of creativity down to what we see as the ‘quality’ of the end result. We tend to do the very opposite of being creative - we clip its wings and define its parameters.
But the end result is not important. It doesn’t matter whether what the child’s artwork looks like. It’s the process of creative self-expression that counts.
Free-form creativity in arts, activities and experiences needs to be encouraged by adults without judgement and done by the child without fear of judgement. And that’s because creative expression is absolutely crucial for a child’s development.
For a child, creative expression is the most natural thing in the world. They are born curious, eager to discover and explore their environment and they do this naturally through self-expression. Allowing them to express their creative instincts using resources like paint, crayons, glue, tactile and natural materials, movement, mime, drama, role playing, singing or dancing should also be the most natural thing in the world because it fosters essential skills and it facilitates learning.
Allowing them to be curious and creative explorers promotes the development of their vital cognitive abilities such as maths and language. It also provides opportunities for children to develop a range of other skills including problem-solving, scientific thought and physical skills as well as socio-emotional skills, enabling them to show their feelings and cope with them.
‘Creative play and artistic activities have a central role in toddlers’ learning and development. They help nurture imagination, and also develop problem-solving, thinking and motor skills.’ (The Raising Children Network (Australia)*
The importance of creative expression for children shouldn’t be underestimated. Nor should their creativity be curtailed, stifled or limited to times when ‘proper’ academic learning isn’t taking place. As adults, it is important not to fall into the trap of packaging a child’s opportunities for self-expression into structured blocks of time with defined outcomes and expectations.
Creative expression is learning in its purest form and for a child to develop crucial skills for their academic, physical and socio-emotional progress, it’s vitally important for adults to acknowledge, encourage, promote and celebrate their creativity.
has intellectual benefits, promoting cognitive skills including numeracy, independent thinking and problem-solving
builds a child’s emotional development, helping children communicate their feelings and learn how to deal with them appropriately
supports language, vocabulary and literacy development
helps a child develop fine and gross motor skills
promotes better health and wellbeing
promotes social development and interaction, helping children learn about teamwork and consideration for others
provides opportunities for developing new interests
develops a child’s unique personality
The process of exploration and discovery and the effort a child puts into creative expression is what counts. In fact, creative play is so important that it is enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child which states ‘that every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts’ (Article 31).
Creative expression is not just child’s play though. It’s a crucially important aspect of childhood which has important and lasting benefits throughout their life.
At Treasured Tots, we believe that creative expression equips children to be the best they can be. At our child care centres in Mandurah, Bibra Lake and Fremantle, each child is celebrated as a unique individual and we provide a loving, secure and stimulating ‘home away from home’ in which they can grow and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically and socially. If you’ve got a young baby or are planning to start a family and are seeking a quality child care centre near you, please get in touch with us through our website, or pop in to one of our child care centres in Mandurah, Bibra Lake or Fremantle. We’d love to meet you!