Arts Education

Promoting Creativity in Children

It’s easy to allow children to be truly creative; allow them the freedom to complete whatever activity they are doing their own. The value of creativity is the mental growth in children that there are always opportunities for trying out new ideas, and new ways of thinking, problem solving, and that no one problem only has one solution! Allowing children to demonstrate their creativity in any task celebrates the child’s uniqueness and self-expression, and offer excellent opportunities to understand each child more.

Creativity is not just about aesthetics, or the arts, but a skill that all of us possess. We all have the capacity for creative thinking – in generating and extending ideas, looking for innovative and imaginative solutions or seeing the world around us in different perspectives. Everyone can be exposed on how to think creatively, and arts is the perfect way to start.

Children need plenty of opportunities for creative thinking and play. Start by designing art activities that are customised to the child’s interests, ideas and experiences. Always prepare activities that can capture young children’s attention immediately using highly relatable stories or objects. Being creative goes beyond drawing and painting. Explore with sculpturing, clay modeling or collages. It’s important to provide children with lots of different activities to keep their interest levels high, and allowing them generous amounts of time to explore the materials and their ideas. An important part of the creative process actually takes place when talking to the child about the materials and how they intend to use it!

Art educators and parents need to provide the right conditions for creativity to flourish. A good starting point is to setup a home children’s art studio. Pay attention to creativity barriers, such as defensive teaching, where children work for long periods of time with little inputs or where the outcomes are pre-determined and controlled. Creativity thrives when there is time to explore, experiment and play with ideas.

In promoting creativity in children, it is important to focus on how the activity is conducted, rather than the activity.

How do we then promote creativity?
  • Remove limitations Children who frequently encounter limitations in activities train themselves to think inside the box. Allow children to challenge the “should nots”, and let them understand the consequences of their suggestions and ideas. Instead of stopping them in their steps, allow them to first see the world as full of possibilities! The exception to this rule is of course, safety!
  • Get messy! Children who are afraid to get their hands dirty are usually so because of their parents. Set aside a part of the house or a home children’s arts studio where the child can get their hands dirty without fear of being scolded, and can safely spend time to experiment with paint and materials.
  • Process is more important than productivity Children are inclined to perform better with positive affirmation from their parents of teachers. Encourage your child to be engaged in the art and play process, and not be concerned about how fast they can work it, or how many can they complete. Do not allow them to rush through their art work to seek your approval!
  • It’s okay to be different Allow your child to understand that at times, it is okay for them to be out of step with their friends and peers. Children can be subjected to group or class pressures at a young age, and may be conscious of how they are seen by other children. Encourage your child that individuality can be something unique, and that you are proud of them!
  • Simpler is better Opt for plain paper over colouring books, and choose building blocks over action toys! these offer more creative play opportunities, and allows children to spend more time exploring what they have been given. The quirkier and simpler the material is, the more possibilities on how your child can use them!
  • Make art play easy Prepare art supplies and activities that your child can engage in without your help. Children may see the same tool or activity in another perspective without the “unknowingly naggy parent!” Use materials that children can use with little supervision, or prepare a “splash zone” where the child’s mess can be cleaned up quickly! The easier art play is for your child, the more likely they are going to make it one of their favourite activities.
  • Be bored Parents and art educators often misunderstand children’s boredom as a disliked activity, and proactively design activities to eradicate said boredom! These periods of time alone that the children have with the activity challenges them to engage their activities whole heartedly and to make the best of the time allowed.
  • Children need to explore their inner and outer worlds Help children brainstorm activities to occupy their mind during road trips or family visits. It’s convenient and tempting for parents to rely on television programmes and computer games to eradicate their children’s boredom. Children who regularly engage in digital entertainment not only miss out on the opportunities to see their environment, but are likely to feel bored than other children if the digital entertainment is not available.
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