Tag Archives: creativity

Creativity and Academics Go Hand in Hand!

As a teacher and a parent I have always encouraged creative thinking by providing lots of open-ended materials such as books, blocks, dramatic play items and art materials. When I was at home with my 4-year-old daughter one of our favorite activities was to draw a squiggle on a piece of paper for each other, and then we would each create a drawing from the squiggle. Then we created a drawing from the squiggle. I was lucky enough to have her in my preschool classroom, too, where she was happy and well-behaved, her days filled with creative activities.

Photo courtesy of Selena N.B.H.

Photo courtesy of Selena N.B.H.

But when she went to kindergarten, my daughter’s enthusiasm for school waned. She was anxious and struggling with her work. Her teacher reported that she was well loved by the other students and always participated in all of the activities, but she struggled with her assignments. When I asked to see an example of her work, her teacher showed me a paper where the children were to draw two fish alike. But instead of completing this assignment, my daughter had drawn two detailed fish with purple with pink polka dots.

When I asked why my daughter’s assignment was “wrong,” the teacher produced another child’s assignment where the child had drawn two fish that were exactly the same. And then she produced another, and another, all perfect examples of modeled art. What could have been a creative opportunity was instead a test, and one my daughter had “failed.” I walked away from that conversation with her teacher knowing that I needed to find another learning environment that encouraged creativity, namely, both convergent and divergent thinking.

Convergent thinking is the ability to come up with a single correct answer. This type of thinking is measured through standard testing methods. Divergent or creative thinking is the ability to come up with new and usual answers. Both are important! Let the children in your classroom explore and allow them to express their thoughts and ideas. You’ll be supporting curiosity, flexibility and originality in their work and play, and encouraging unique and effective solutions. Teachers should strive to help children explore their academic potential and their creative potential.

– Stephannie

Red Flowers with Green Leaves

Professional Development Coordinator Sadie Bonifas blogs about children’s art experiences…

 Over the holidays, I visited programs and was happy to see lots of children’s artwork displayed on the walls. Displaying children’s artwork is a great way to encourage pride and showcase children’s work to parents. However, as I walked around the classrooms, I saw elves, snowmen, and coloring in out-lined drawings, which is clearly following an adult-made model.

 It made me think back to a poem I read (or was it song lyrics), about a little boy, who on the first day of school wanted to paint flowers of all different colors. The boy’s teacher told him that the flowers had to be red and the leaves had to be green. When he moved and went to a new school, the teacher wanted painting to be fun so she put out many colors. But the boy only painted red flowers with green leaves in neat rows.

 Children need freedom of expression, especially young children who are just exploring and learning. Provide lots of materials to explore art, such as paper, markers, crayons, paint, scissors, and glue. Show children how to use the materials, but not what to make or create. Talk to the child and ask questions about what they are creating. When a child is given an example of the end product or told what to create, she doesn’t have room to make choices, to explore, or to learn. When children follow an adult model of art, what results, is children who don’t have confidence in their own abilities to explore and the result is red flowers with green leaves in neat rows.

 Posted by julie on Tuesday, February 02, 2010 6:45 PM