April 12, 2016
One of the major areas I wanted to learn about when I began homeschooling 13 years ago was how to instill, develop and boost children’s creativity. I guess, it began with having children of my own and thinking of activities for them. For some reason, push button or battery-operated toys limited the child to just pressing some buttons (more like banging in the younger years!). This bothered me! During my early years as a mom, having my 1st child, it became very obvious how bored they got with such toys that were repetitive and close ended.
As my child’s first teacher, I wanted also to create a nurturing environment at home that would be like a safe haven to explore, to test ideas, and to create! Since the teacher is part of that “environment”, I wanted to learn how to encourage my child’s self-expression and creativity.
My first son was only 8 months when we were assigned in London as part of my husband, Gilbert’s work expatriation. Part of the package given to him was a “spouse allowance” for continuing education. So, I enrolled in an “Early Years: Childhood Care and Education” certificate course in the Richmond Community College. Wow, looking back, I am so thankful for having done that course. I did that without really knowing then that I would have three more children coming and that I would eventually homeschool.
Creativity in children was one of the recurrent topics in our lessons. My teacher told us this story. Let me try to re-tell it.
There once was a preschooler who was passionate about horses. She loved them and she drew horses every day. She was happy with the outcome of her drawings. Then, suddenly some reason, the little girl gave up the whole “horses” phase and stopped drawing horses.
Our teacher asked, “What do you think happened?”
She then explained that a well-meaning, loving grandmother who learned about her enthusiasm for drawing horses, gifted her grandchild with a coloring book of horses.
“A seemingly harmless gesture, right?”
Without meaning to do harm, the coloring book “communicated” to the child how horses are supposed to look like. The child then realized that what she had been drawing all this time was far from the accepted and appreciated “form” of horses.
The instruction was to “color within the lines” and we all know preschoolers’ underdeveloped fine motor skills cannot do color within the lines excellently. We also know that “going out of the lines” was not really something celebrated.
What an eye-opener indeed? Why then offer coloring books? Why expect toddlers or preschoolers to color only within the lines. If you want to know more about the detrimental effects of coloring books to developing young children, click here.
So, from then on, I vowed to never purchase a coloring book. Through the years however, you eventually get some as gifts or as pages in an activity book.
Instead, I just bought ream after ream of A3 and A4 paper (our kids didn’t like drawing on recycled papers with some printing at the back) and just restocked our washable tempera/poster paints, chubby crayons, markers!
Eventually, we introduced other forms of coloring material such as oil pastels, colored pencils, water color, acrylic/oil paint. We then introduced paper mache, sculpting clay and practically any material we could turn into Art! I’ve noticed though that young children like using coloring materials that are easy to manipulate and create “bold colors”. We struggled with some ‘low quality” finger paints because no matter how much blotches we put, the red was pink, and the green was light green!
In London, we lived 30 minutes away from IKEA. They sold affordable easels, easy to use and washable kiddie tables and chairs, art materials and aprons too. Early Learning Center, a 10-minute walk from our house, was also a source of art materials as well as other playthings to encourage creativity.
Creativityatwork.com defines creativity as, “Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterized by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing. If you have ideas, but don’t act on them, you are imaginative but not creative.”
Having learned a whole about how adults can stifle children’s creativity, I really became bent on understanding this field and wanted to be a CREATIVITY Crusader in our homeschooling room:) So I had to learn and yes re-learn. Two materials that became like handbooks as I began homeschooling were these:
Regarding the Creativity Process, Michele Cassou had this to say, “I came to realize how the intelligence of creativity works and how everything in it has to come from the child. Creativity needed to be offered as play, adventure, and self-expression. Putting pressures or expectations on children had to be banned; at the same time, the basic principles of creativity could never be compromised. Consequently, the creative process couldn’t be taught as a technique because it is a living process. I needed to use my intuition and my heart, not my ideas of what was right. I had to become supple, available and strong in the understanding of my own creativity. within a few years, I developed a method based on process, not techniques…. This approach resulted in children entering a true process, finding self-expression and developing a solid base for creativity in their lives, an experience they couldn’t forget. ”(Excerpt from Michele Cassou‘s book entitled, Kid’s Play, Igniting a Child’s Creativity)
The teaching encouraged by Miss Cassou is the kind that uses a “gentle process that follows children’s journeys into themselves. When children reach their inner being and express themselves, their hearts open.”
Homeschooling offers such a safe haven where children’s hearts open. That’s because they learn at home with their most trusted person in the world, their parents. We already have the most basic and important ingredients of CREATIVITY: Acceptance, Appreciation, Safety, Love and Trust. How can Creativity not flow and bloom? But parents are not natural creativity crusaders, so let me, in the succeeding posts, impart some ways to raise creative children in the homeschooling setting. Keep in touch, ok?
Watch out for the next blog post about Creativity!
13 For you created my inmost being;Psalm 139: 13-17
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!