Parent Tip: The Child and Creativity

My wife and I were driving back to our home after spending time painting storybook figurines onto our granddaughter's bedroom walls. As always, the venture was another learning experience for all.

The radio was on and someone was speaking about creativity and the child. My educational ears perked up, but much of my memory did not. Nevertheless, I will jot down some thoughts I remember and I may annotate them as well.

1) Less is more. Increasing creativity does not mean having more stuff around to "stimulate creativity." Having too much stuff available, in fact, adds to confusion and a lack of focus.

Increasing creativity occurs when the child is to work with a few items. The child then focusses and explores and experiments with the few items, becoming familiar with the objects and what he/she can or cannot do with them. The apparent repetiveness of dealing with said few objects helps the child to develop processes for dealing with them. Once the child has learned about the objects and explored initial processes for manipulating them, the child can now experiment with the objects within familiar circumstances. Thus the child has a safety net for failure as the objects have become familiar and their rudimentary manipulations have been assimilated into the child's knowledge base. The child then may attempt to transfer such gained knowledge to another, different set of circumstances or objects. At any point in the exploration the child can even return to familiar circumstances and previous successes before venturing again.

My wife and I recalled such daring-do when our granddaughter was playing with Lego. She built up and knocked down. She built alone and with others. She sat on and stood on stuctures she or others had built. She built high structures she could hardly reach and then faced with the dilemma asked for assistance. She built and rebuilt some structures. At each juncture she looked at and turned each piece over and over until she had determined its use. Some pieces were abandonned in favour of other pieces. Sometimes, I was unaware of the criteria she used, but she had a method or reason for such determinations. The manipulations and thinking went on and on.

Now, at some time, she tired of the activity and the Lego was put away in favour of another activity or object. However, over many days, she returned again and again to the Lego, often going through same procedures before attempting something new. We enjoyed watching and participating in the learning experience.

2) Playing's OK. Creativity does not mean that everything the child does must be "purposeful" and "educational." I realized as adults we do not need to formally present teaching/learning activities all the time. Sometimes the child just needs to reflect or do what appears to be aimless messing about (playing). The child may need to play in order to reestablish familiarity and thus security with the objects. I noted that at some time the child will purposefully engage in an activity by manipulating and exploring the objects at hand. Never fails -but it happens at the child's own volition and pace.

That's not to say that one needs to wait around forever to help the wee one to engage. One can initiate an activity by creating interest and stimulating curiosity -but don't be surprised if one's own enthusiasm is not reciprocated as fully as desired.

3) Increase vocabulary. The spokeswoman on the radio said that having the child focus upon and manipulate a few objects will increase the chance of vocabulary development. Apparently as the child becomes more familiar with the objects or manipulations the child wants words to communicate to others and to define what he/she is doing or define the object itself. This can be noted more when the child is participating with another (often an adult or older child)who has the vocabulary. The words used and often repeated by the adult may not necessarily be the words the child actually needs, the words are often assumed to be the words the child needs. Nevertheless, speaking clearly and precisely about the objects or the activity may present the child with the word(s) he/she wants and when the child utters the appropriate word(s) in the appropriate situation and is praised for doing so, the child will most likely use those words. Again, the continual use of familiar objects and the plain speaking related to the activity and object will encourage correct word usage and give a context for that usage.

More may have been said on the radio regarding the matter, and I am sure much has been written and read. Neverthless, a couple of ideas put to good use may be better than an entire encyclopedia of what-to-do.


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