Cheri M. Gioe, Merrill, Thomas A. | 4/19/2005 10:28:32 PM
In today’s world, only finishing in first place is considered to be successful, so children often equate success with being able to finish a project quickly and well.
But using speed as a measure of success may come at the cost of creativity, says LSU AgCenter child-care associate Cheri Gioe.
"This means caregivers and parents are faced with a challenge in trying to encourage children to be creative," Gioe says, stressing, "Creativity is important, because the progress of humankind has advanced because of creative thinkers."
The LSU AgCenter expert points out that inventions such as electricity, the light bulb and automobiles have contributed to the advancement of society and the quality of our lives – but those and other inventions weren’t necessarily finished quickly.
"Creativity is a form of self-expression where one uses abilities, skills and attitude to bring something new and original into being," Gioe explains. "Everyone possesses a certain amount of creativity, and young children tend to be very creative."
Of course, creativity also changes at different levels of personal development – presenting even more challenges.
"Self-expression allows children to create things based upon their own personal feelings and experiences and allows them to express and cope with those feelings," Gioe advises. "Experiences children have, even at the earliest of age, can affect their creativity."
A child’s creative ability allows caregivers and parents to recognize their thoughts or feelings – thereby helping adults to better meet the emotional needs of children.
"Caregivers of young children need to find ways to emphasize the importance of being creative, such as modeling the creative process, encouraging individuality and admitting when we do things less than perfectly," the LSU AgCenter experts says. "When children are allowed to be creative, their developmental skills improve in all areas of development.
"Creative children learn to feel good about themselves, seek many answers to a single problem, develop higher level thinking skills, become independent individuals, have better fine motor coordination and enjoy being different. Even more, in later years, creative children do not become followers."
To help children in the creative process, Gioe says adults need to remember to set aside concerns about finished products.
"The skills and lessons children learn through the creative process far outweigh the actual product," she says, adding, "Ways that caregivers can help children focus on the creative process are to ensure that the activity is open-ended, refrain from judging the process, keep opinions and suggestions to a minimum, and focus on what is actually seen – not what is thought to be seen."
The expert says children need to be encouraged to fall in love with something, to take pride in and develop their greatest strength and to learn independence to become truly creative.
"Children need to be rewarded and valued for their creativity and encouraged to feel joy in their work," Gioe says, stressing, "Children who are creative develop perseverance and the ability to ‘stick to it.’ These are skills that children need for life!"The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.