Studies have shown the children’s creativity tends to decrease with age. Most notably from kindergarten to grade three.
The reason is thought to be a combination of strict curriculums combined with standardised tests in schools as well as extra time in front of screens, such as television, computers and smartphones.
This is sad news, for the kids and the world in general because using imagination and creativity is vital to children’s individual mental health. It is also important for the world, as these are our future leaders, policy makers, inventors, scientists and researchers.
How children actually learn more through creativity
Some people believe children who are not regularly exposed to art and the materials to create it do not read and write as well as those who are.
According to the Child Development Institute, children who had higher exposure to art were better at reading and writing than their peers.
This claim was backed up by a study by Shirley Brice Heath of Stanford University.
According to this national (USA) study, children involved in non-school arts-based programs in under-resourced communities were four times more likely to win an academic award.
Research also suggests encouraging children to be creative and imaginative can help them to be more resilient and resourceful in their adult years.
By working out ways to make and create things, children are using problem-solving skills and investigating different ways to find solutions.
Providing an open and friendly atmosphere for children to explore their creative side is empowering and promotes independence. It may also reveal hidden talents.
Creative play encourages divergent thinking – the ability to produce many ideas.
It also fosters originality, flexibility and innovation.
There is some evidence that creative people have more goal-directed behaviour.
Why children learn more through creativity
Creative and imaginative play also increases self-esteem and confidence, as well as patience.
Young minds are spoon fed colourful and busy activities on smartphones and computers.
Many of the games are educational and fun, but they also encourage instant gratification.
When a child is making something by hand, he/she must discover the process involved and learn patience to complete the creation – if you try to do the next step before the glue is dry, the creation will fall apart.
Activities such as creating patterns taps into the same parts of the brain that we used for more complex problem solving later in life.
When a child is manipulating a tool, such as a paintbrush, he/she is practising fine motor skills.
Exploring the use of different materials in creative arts taps into the inner scientist.
Constructing and sculpting taps into the inner architect.
‘Mistakes’ lead to new discoveries and ingenuity, a vital skill in the worlds of art, science and technology.
How to encourage children to learn more through creativity
So how can you help your child tap into their creative side?
Possibly one of the most important things you can do is play imaginative games with them.
Having some dress-up clothes on hand is a wonderful way to encourage the imagination.
Play around with creating wonderful treasures from nature.
You can even turn screen time into a chance for creative exploration. One of my granddaughters and I are currently in the process of reproducing the main characters in the Wizard of Oz – a movie we have watched together on several occasions.
When we didn’t like a sad part of another movie we watched, we used it as an opportunity to create our own happy ending.
Using recyclables for creative play saves money and helps reduce waste and encourage children to think outside the box.
For more information about helping your child to be more creative, please contact the expert contributor.
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