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Creativity in young children
And how to foster it
How to foster creativity in your kids
After our son was born and we started being busy with what kind of toys we would like him to have, I read something that made a lot of sense: get toys that are safe, simple and passive. There are a lot of toys to choose from out there, but we could more or less group them into active and passive toys. Passive toys have one thing in common: they will only respond to the child’s manipulation. With passive toys, the child activates them. Active toys, on the other hand, encourage the child to be passive and to rely on the toy to entertain them.
Whilst both types can provide hours of entertainment, the benefit of passive toys is that they spark curiosity, ignite the imagination, encourage exploration and can be used in a myriad of different ways. Or simply put: passive toy = active child.
Many researchers believe we have fundamentally changed the experience of childhood in such a way that it impairs creative development. Toy and entertainment companies feed kids an endless stream of prefab characters, images, props and plot-lines that allow children to put their imaginations to rest. Children no longer need to imagine a stick is a sword in a game or a story they've imagined: they can play Star Wars with a specific lightsaber in costumes designed for the specific role they are playing.
Many people assume that creativity is an inborn talent that their kids either do or do not have. But actually, creativity is more skill than inborn talent, and it is a skill parents can help their kids develop.
Creativity in young children
The Swiss artist Paul Klee is known for his complex and highly personal approach to Modern art. Klee was enthusiastic about the role that tribal art, folk painting, and children's art could play in helping artists break from Western artistic conventions and achieve a greater intuitive level. In this work, Klee represents a child's growth in response to the stimuli from his environment. The many ellipses surrounding the toddler's head suggest that he is caught in overwhelming forces of excitement and disorientation. The oversize head evokes the distortions of scale found in children's artworks which Klee admired for their creativity and innocence.
If in the previous article you could find more general suggestions on how to foster creativity in children, we leave here another one that goes more in depth and is more focused on creativity through art and the stages a child goes through, from scribbling*, to pre-schematic, to schematic, to realistic and so on.
*A creative exercise to do with your child…
…or children, if you have more or you work with them in nursery, kindergarten, daycare centres etc. It comes from Nona Orbach, an art therapist, art educator, and artist herself.
In many kindergartens in Israel, there is a typical disturbing behaviour of children. They stop drawing and scribbling, and if they do, they become frustrated and say their drawings are ugly.
In these kindergartens, coloring pages are given by the adults, parents, that sometimes draw an image the child requests to fill it with colors.
The outcome is that the child compares his drawings to his parent or teacher. Thus, the natural flow of scribbling and drawing of childhood is disturbed at a very young age, and they stop drawing.
What Nona Orbach proposes is a small exercise with a few basic materials and a simple set up: two kinds of paper, cut in different sizes and a few linear tools (such as different sizes of markers, pens, liners etc., all black). Set them up on a table the child can reach and make an open invitation to scribbling: would you like to try it? It can be at first the child hesitates or does not want to at all. Just leave them there as a doodling opportunity for when the child is ready to try. Put the work on display somewhere in your house, to show the scribbling has value, it’s not ugly, it’s not wrong, it’s not stupid.
Why only black tools for drawing?
Using black lines only encourages the brain to investigate shapes, lines, and dots. This brought the children immediately to their natural developmental phase to create from. The natural flow was revived. If there were coloured pens it would most likely go into schemas as rainbows, hearts, flowers etc.
You can read Nona’s entire blog post and other articles about creativity on her website THE GOOD ENOUGH STUDIO.