Providing constraints can lead to more creativity. A blank piece of paper intimidates, while a blank sheet with a drawing/writing prompt can open the floodgates to creative expression and imagination. Make a deck of prompts which children can select from randomly for inspiration, or have children invent new words to a familiar song – these types of things allow for creativity within some guidelines.
But don’t go crazy. There is a point where there can be project guideline overload. Open-ended activities with multiple “correct” ways to design or problem-solve are still the key.
Sharing. Have children share their creations with each other and with a caring adult so they can build creative confidence and learn to articulate their creative process. Reflecting on their color, material or subject matter choices helps them apply those lessons to the next creative challenge. Because we think of creativity as something we’re born with or not, it’s especially important to reinforce creativity as a process everyone can be successful at in different ways.
Creativity is more likely not a trait that you’re born with but a mindset. Learning more and more about how children’s brains develop has shown that many traits require a set of skills, attitudes, behaviors and habits that can be nurtured and strengthened. Children are, in fact, born creative and curious. It is what drives them to learn about the world around them. But what we often think is that creativity is simply playfulness and silliness that comes with the freedom of being a child. But that is, in all likelihood, not real creativity bubbling up in a child.
Research shows that when adults show a child how a toy contraption words, they spend less time playing with it. A child who is simply given a toy with no instruction, is apt to play with it longer. Figuring out how to inspire without giving too much instruction is the secret recipe to success in allowing children to indulge in play, imagination and creativity – to unleash their creativity and build their creative confidence.
No constraints (or limitations) fail to provide a child with the parameters needed to be creative. Think about adults. Given a project with no parameters, with no guidelines, makes the project incredibly difficult to complete. It’s probably critical to get a handle on our perception of constraints. We tend to consider constraints to hinder us, to pin us in. In practice, that’s far from the truth. You could say that constraints create the pathway that guides us to be creative.
The secret recipe we spoke of earlier is the perfect combination of constraints, parameters, restrictions, guidelines (whatever you want to call them) that foster a child’s creativity. Being able to perfect that recipe for each group of children – or even each individual child – by providing a nurturing environment with constraints that gently guide children to creativity is what makes an effective and successful care center.
Sources: Fast Company, Childcare Exchange, Psychology Today