When you think about the everyday life of a child, you may realize they spend many days responding to directives, demands, schedules and routines. In the life of today’s child there is little room for creative me time. You know that time they get to just be with themselves, so they will start to understand who they are, what they like and how they ﬁt into the larger world around them? It’s open-ended time. Time that’s not regulated and not dictated. When you encourage this speciﬁc open-ended time chances are children will use a portion of it being creative. When they are given opportunities to have creative experiences, they truly express themselves. They will use their imaginations and the places they go and things they create are endless. Creativity is a reﬂection of who a person is. Our little people, yes, those little humans we love, they have a lot of personality, ideas to test out, things they want to create and curiosities to satisfy.
As an educator, who’s been teaching for many years, I’ve realized that there’s usually two types of classrooms I walk into. There are either classrooms that encourage children to think for themselves and be creative or there are the classrooms that dictate everything, down to how to the eyes should be glued on a self-portrait art project. What happens when you give children more opportunities to be creative with no boundaries attached? What if you leave the creativity time open-ended? In my experience, with giving children opportunities for open-ended creativity, there are 5 amazing skills I’ve found that standout and are beneﬁcial to the progression and growth of a child.
2. Independent Thinking
Children get to use their imaginations to come up with new ideas, things to try and new creations. You can even see a child’s creativity and use of their imagination in their play. You’d be surprised what they can create.
Over the years, in and out of schools, I’ve seen children who have a hard time making decisions and thinking for themselves when they are so conditioned to wait for direction or permission to create. When a child is given the freedom to create whatever it is they like, they begin to strengthen their ability to think independently.
The more a child is given time to create the more comfortable they become with understanding what they truly like. They learn about what interest them by trying new things, testing their ideas and exploring new choices.
It is natural for children to be curious. They’re brains and bodies are developing quickly, especially during their early years, so they are eager to learn about the world around them. Their curiosity helps them understand where they ﬁt in this large world. They also learn how to navigate through it. Allowing a child to be creative allows them to satisfy their curiosity and answer some of the questions they may have.
Creativity can boost conﬁdence in children. Yes, it does. The more opportunities they are given to freely create the more comfortable they become with making choices and believing in what they’ve created. I’ve encountered many children who are afraid to make a choice or afraid to express what they’ve created without looking for direction or approval from a teacher. I love asking children to tell me about what they’ve created. When a child is conﬁdent you can feel it. They are proud to share what they’ve created and they love to give details.
The best thing we can do for the children in our lives is to give them more opportunities for open-ended creativity. Watch their reactions when they are given the freedom to create, watch them pick, choose and make decisions. When they ﬁnish their personal creations, ask them about it and then just listen. We can learn a lot from a child when we just listen.
Happy creating! #GoMakeStuﬀ
Monica J Sutton is an early childhood development specialist and child behavior specialist who helps parents guide children to be their best selves in challenging situations using mindful strategies and fun activities that ﬁt their busy lives. With a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood and Special Education, she has spent over 16 years working directly with children of all abilities and backgrounds in NYC classrooms. She combines her research-driven expertise and experiential hands-on results with the belief that every child has an individual path to greatness. Monica’s expert guidance has been featured in online publications including Spark Box Toys, Peaceable Kingdom, Lifetime Moms and Essence, as well as on the TV news program Low Country Live. In the summer of 2015 she partnered with Crayola, featuring their sidewalk chalk as part of PlayDay, her signature hands-on event. She is also the founder of the PAUSE to Connect Practice, a new way of thinking and approaching child behavior. You can ﬁnd her at www.monicajsutton.com.