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Engaging in creative activities (painting, drawing, playing music, etc.) plays a key role in helping kids explore their identities, gain emotional intelligence, and improve their moods.
What are you doing in your classroom to foster creativity?
Read on to learn more about the importance of creativity in children. You’ll also find some tips on how to encourage your students to be more innovative.
These days, it’s not uncommon for teachers to spend the bulk of their time focusing on STEM subjects: Science, technology, engineering, and math.
These subjects are certainly important for students of all ages. However, teaching them also shouldn’t result in a lack of creative activities and outlets.
Creativity is just as, if not more, important for students’ success. Here are some of the most noteworthy reasons why:
When kids have opportunities to create something out of nothing, it boosts their self-esteem, empowers them, and shows them that they’re capable of doing great things.
The more chances kids have to build up their self-esteem when they’re young, the more likely they are to maintain high self-esteem as they get older. This, in turn, encourages them to take chances, try new things, and push themselves as they reach higher grades, university, and even the workforce.
Think about it. By making room for creativity in your classroom and encouraging kids to explore and experiment, you could be opening all kinds of doors for them when they become adults.
How important are problem-solving skills to adults? No matter what kind of career path an adult pursues, they need to have some problem-solving skills to be able to do their job well and rise through the ranks at whatever company employs them.
Adults can certainly improve their problem-solving abilities later in life. It’s easier, though, if they start developing them as children.
Giving kids opportunities to engage in creative activities naturally helps them to develop their problem-solving skills.
It doesn’t matter if they’re learning how to build a particular structure out of blocks or they’re learning how to create a specific image in a painting. They’re still developing tenacity and learning not to give up when things get hard.
For young children, creative activities play an important role in helping them to develop and strengthen their fine motor skills.
From forming shapes out of clay to colouring with crayons, these kinds of activities strengthen the tiny muscles in their hands and fingers. The stronger these muscles are, the easier it will be for them to type, play sports, play instruments, and engage in all kinds of other activities as they age.
Keep in mind, kids don’t always have opportunities to be creative at home. By providing space for them to do these things at school, you may be giving them an advantage that they might not have had otherwise.
These days, kids are more susceptible to distractions than ever before. From cartoons on TV to constant streams of social media notifications, they often don’t have opportunities to build concentration and focus. This is why fostering creativity is so important.
When you encourage kids to be creative, you’re giving them a chance to improve their ability to focus. You’ll find that they often get so wrapped up in what they’re creating that they don’t even realize how much time has gone by.
The ability to work on something without taking a break to look at their phone screen or chat with their neighbour is an essential skill that will serve them very well as they move into older grades and as they join the workforce.
Some people mistakenly assume that they have to choose between STEM and creative subjects. What they don’t realize, though, is that creative activities can actually improve a child’s STEM performance.
When kids have a chance to be creative and build things, they may find that they have an aptitude for things like making models or taking apart old pieces of equipment. They may be a budding engineer or computer scientist, but they won’t realize it unless they first have a chance to play with blocks or draw.
Remember, too, that creative activities can be used to make STEM subjects more interesting. You can combine art, model-making, and more to keep kids engaged and make the information that they’re learning stick.
Creativity is important for kids of all ages. If you’re not sure how to make your classroom a more supportive place for their creative pursuits, here are some tips that can help:
The first step to fostering creativity is to provide kids with plenty of materials.
You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on brand new arts and craft supplies. However, investing in a few things like blocks or LEGOs, as well as paper, crayons, and markers can help you set up a simple station for your students to use during their free periods. You can likely buy a lot of these things used to cut down on costs.
Don’t be afraid to ask for donations, too. Your students’ parents might have leftover supplies hanging around the house that they’re no longer using. With a few good-sized donations, you could fully stock your creative corner without having to dip into your own pocket at all.
It might be tempting to add a lot of structure to your creative classroom activities. As much as you can, though, allow your students to be as free as possible during these periods.
Let them do and make what they want, without a lot of oversight or instruction from you. This should be their time to flex their creative muscles, play, and do what they like (within reason, of course).
Remember, free play is powerful for kids. It actually improves their abilities to plan and organize. It can help them to regulate their emotions, get along better with others, and improve their language, math, and social skills, too.
Encourage kids to work together as well. If your students want to work in pairs or groups to create something, let them.
When they collaborate on creative projects, they learn how to be more cooperative and work through problems on their own, without interference from a teacher or parent. You don’t have to think too hard to realize that this is an essential skill for older kids and adults alike to develop.
Not a day goes by that the average adult doesn’t have to collaborate and cooperate with others, right? The earlier they begin to work on these skills, the better off they’ll be when they get older.
It’s important for kids to have opportunities to create unencumbered by lots of rules, restrictions, and instructions. At the same time, though, this doesn’t mean you can’t also look for opportunities to teach.
Making time for reflection is a great way to help kids draw connections and show them how much progress they’re making. At the end of a creative period, after everything has been cleaned up and put away, sit down with students and ask them what they worked on, how they felt while they were working on it, and what they enjoyed about their time drawing, sculpting, etc.
These kinds of questions help to encourage critical thinking and help kids to take ownership of their work.
You can also use reflection prompts and questions to help kids through times when things don’t go the way they planned. If a project doesn’t work out the way a student wanted, you can ask questions like “What did you want it to be?” or “What could you do differently next time to help it work?” to teach problem-solving and encourage them to not give up.
The furniture in your classroom can help or hinder your students’ creative progress. If all of the desks are lined up in straight rows and are difficult to rearrange, it might be hard to set up a place for kids to be creative and think outside of the box. In addition to being physically challenging, it may also be hard for them to mentally get out of the “learning” mindset and into the “creative” mindset.
Consider investing in some active, mobile classroom furniture that can easily be rearranged to suit students’ creative needs and pursuits. For example, this kind of furniture is easy to move into a cluster if a few students want to work on a project together. It encourages collaboration and helps them shift from one way of thinking to another.
Fostering creativity is an essential part of 21st-century learning. If you want to encourage the children in your classroom to be more creative (and set them up for a successful future), start by following the tips listed above.
Remember, your students don’t need a lot to reap the benefits of creativity. As long as you provide a space and some materials, you’ll start to see results right away.