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Developing Creativity in

Creativity is an important aspect of a person's existence. It gives flavour to ones life. That is why it is crucial to teach a child how to enhance her creativity and to draw upon it for inspiration.

The following is an article taken from my developmental psychology textbook. The book is written John W. Santrock and is called Life Span Development. The following passage comes from page 402:

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's Idea on Creativity

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi...(1995) interviewed 90 leading figures in a number of fields (art, business, government, education, and science). The creative experts included life-span development expert Bernice Neugarten, biologist Jonas Salk (who invented the polio vaccine), ex-senator Eugene McCarthy, philosopher Mortimer Adler, and psychologist Donald Campbell, a former president of the American Psychological Association.

Csikszentmihalyi applied to creativity his concept of flow- the enjoyment we experience when we are engaged in mental and physical challenges that absorb us. He says that the first step toward a more creative life is to cultivate your curiosity and interest. How can you do this? Based on his in-depth interviews with some of the world's most creative people, he offered the following specific advice:

If you want to hear more about Csikszentmihalyi's study of creative individuals, you can read his book: Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Creativity. New York: Harper Collins, 1995.

Marie-Helen Goyetche, a daycare provider, offers advice in an article published on February 16, 1999 at Suite 101. She stresses the importance of the caregiver's creativity on a child's development.

Developing Creativity in Your Children

By working as an educator, you have children looking up to you every minute of the day.

Have you ever noticed a child doing a action and you think to yourself, that's how you would handle it? Or, a child tells another child to do something using 'your' words? You are an important role model to the children in your group and in the day care.

There are many areas you'll need to 'model', social skills, vocabulary and pronunciation, motor skills, dealing with our emotions, new abilities and creativity.

Yes, creativity! To model creativity means more than creative arts, it means a way of thinking. Creativity is being creative by problem solving. It's a way of life.

Creativity let's us take any project, problem or situation and find more than one solution. We need to have different ways of thinking. Here are a few ways to let you model and encourage the children in your group to think a little different and think a little creatively.

A ROLE MODEL: Don't be afraid to let yourself go. Find your inner child, act curious, energetic and ask questions. Lots of questions! Don't ask the standard closed questions with a 'yes' or 'no'. Ask open-questions, where children will have to think a little more for an answer. Once they have expressed their answer, encourage them to think of another, or to elaborate on the first one.

ARE YOU SPONTANOUS? You work extra hours to structure and plan your weekly (daily) program but learn to let yourself go and follow the mood of your children.

"Last year, a sewage pipe burst at the corner of our day care. The city workers came, the shovels, the digs… and all the kids wanted, was to stay at the window and watch. There went my program and their attention. So I took out the sandbox, trucks and toilet paper rolls. The children made themselves hats. We created our own broken pipe, added water and transformed the classroom into a busy city with lots of broken pipes. I could have forced them to do what I had planned but I opted to take advantage of this to do something different and let them be part of their learning-playing. This lasted for a week." Says Jenny, educator working with the three-year-old group.

FREE PLAY: Children learn most during free play as they have decided to play with what interests them. Free play doesn't mean free-for-all. Make picture cards to identify how many children allowed in each station/center. Have the rule signs up such as: no running, and taking turns. There are some rules during free play, let them play safe in a structured and supervised environment. Let the children tell you what rules should be enforced in your classroom, by including them in the thinking and implementing chances are they'll respect the rules more. They might give you a safety concern you overlooked.

ENCOURAGEMENT: Set out different activities but let the children be the ones to direct the activity. It's ok if they get things wrong, that's how they learn. Encourage them to try again and get other ideas. Stimulate their thinking. Be a supporting educator, value them and share with them.

SET OUT A CREATIVE CORNER: On a table set out old magazines, newspapers, odds and ends, objects such as a camera, a radio, a telephone where children can explore, imagine and pretend. Let them find new uses for the objects. Let them take items from one center and items from another to create a new center.

PROBLEM SOLVING: Fix yourself a goal -- to bring up to them two-three problems (of varying degrees) a day. Ask them to give you answers, and write the answers down. You'll be enriching language, thought and fostering the idea that there's more than one solution to every problem. Later during the day or week, go back to the problem and see how it was handled. Did the solution work? What else could be done? Encourage them to verbalize. Ask them how they would have handled it if they were sick? Or in a bad mood? Overly tired?

Use your influence to make them think and develop good thinking skills! Be creative and flexible, it's paret of the keys for fun and learning.

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