One of the major areas I wanted to learn about as I began homeschooling 13 years ago was how to instill, develop and boost children’s creativity. I guess, it began with having babies and thinking of activities for them. For some reason, push button or battery operated toys that limited the child to just pressing ( more like banging in the younger years!) bothered me. During my earlier years of having my 1st infant/ toddler, it was very obvious how bored they got with such toys that were sort of 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 yes to create! Since the teacher is part of that “environment” I wanted to learn how to be 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 expatriation for work. Part of the package was an opportunity for spouses to continue some form of growth and education. I enrolled in a 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 3 more children coming and that I would eventually homeschool.
Sessions in that course were devoted on Creativity and my professor told us this story. Let me try to re-tell it. There once a preschooler who was passionate about horses. She loved them and she daily drew horses. She drew them and she was happy about all her drawings. For some reason, a time came when she dropped the whole “horses” phase and never again attempted to draw them. Our professor then asked, “What do you think happened? ” She then continued with the explanation. A well meaning, loving grandmother who learned about her enthusiasm for drawing horses, gifted her little granddaugther with a coloring book of horses and only horses. A seemingly harmless gesture cut the lifeline to this bursting creativity in that child. Without meaning to do harm, the coloring book “communicated” to the child how horses are supposed to look like . The child realized that what she has 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 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 with immature fine motor skills 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 some pages of activity books have them. 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 went into 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!
Living maybe 30 minutes away from IKEA and yes, learning how to drive on the right hand side in 2001, IKEA was my happy place! So, I was so thrilled to see their easels, washable tables and aprons and paint containers! Early Learning Center, a 10 minute walk from our home, sold 500ml washable paints in rainbow color for only £1 per bottle!
So timely! As I write this post, my now 12 year old daughter who was just stamping away in the photo above 10 years ago has shown me her latest creation using some special pens.( Visit her “room” or the category corner “Raya’s Room” in this blog for more of her creations!) Here it is:
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 began homeschooling were these:
Regarding the Creativity Process, Michelle 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 cold 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 her 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 !
Psalm 139: 13-17
For you created my inmost being;
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!