Nurturing and Protecting Creativity
Something I’ve been reflecting upon lately is children and creativity. Whilst many of us value creativity as something we would like for our children and ourselves, how does this play out in our day to day lives?
For a while I considered creativity to be linked to art materials and making stuff, which is definitely an element of being creative. I made a conscious effort to have creative time within our days, and I spent lots of time looking for creative activities, art classes and craft projects for us to enjoy.
Yet after reflecting on general day to day life, and especially the times my children are engaged in free play, I’ve come to realise that creativity is not simply limited to making stuff with art materials. It is integral to how we express ourselves in anything and everything that we do. When given the time and space, children do this effortlessly in the pictures they draw, the games they create, the fancy dress costumes they put together and the mud cakes they make and sprinkle with petals.
Watch your children and see how they play. When they have plenty of free time and space to do with what they will, the things they come up with are immense. Relaxed play is the state in which we become creators. We explore ideas, experiment with materials and discover and express a little more of ourselves with the materials we have to hand. This is such a different space to giving our child materials and telling them what to do with them or attaching learning outcomes, pressure and expectations to a child’s activity.
Far from limiting ourselves to perceiving creativity as purely creating things in the context of art or craft, we can widen our horizons and realise that we are innately creative in everything we do.
Yet as a parent one thing I’ve realised it that creativity, and in particular, time and materials available to use, is something which needs our attention. Life gets so busy, with so much to do, and so many places to be. Parenting can come with many anxieties surrounding how well our children are ‘doing’, and what they are learning and achieving. Yet creativity itself is valuable and is something which will nurture and enrich all aspects of our children’s being and development both as children enjoying the moment, and as adults who know what they are capable of and know how to explore, learn, create, make mistakes and create once again.
Prioritise and protect time where your children can simply be; being in their own space and their own time frame, with simple materials they can use as they like. Such space is simple and free, demanding little, yet is a threatened and endangered commodity in our rushed, scheduled and outcome focused lives.
We do not need to worry about helping our children to be creative – rather we need to become guardians of their time, space and environment to enable their innate creativity to flourish. Giving them the time and space to play as they like, smiling at their role plays, and providing simple materials for them to use as they like enables their creativity to flow. Some quiet time, in their home or garden, with access to materials is all they need.
Access to simple art materials, scissors and tape, cardboard and boxes, paint and glue and a space and plenty of time to use these gives children an invitation to explore and play as they like. We may guide their creations at times, and help them to develop new skills, yet protecting the space for them to create as they like invites them to come up with things far from what we may imagine; through their own creations we see a little more of who they are.
I am beginning to understand creativity as exploring and bringing into being our feelings and ideas with the materials we have around us. Our children do this effortlessly, when we protect their space from over-scheduling and prescriptive games, and give them the gift of time, freedom, and simple things to do with what they like.
Yet creativity is not solely the terrain of our children. Don’t limit yourself with the belief you are not creative because you were no good at drawing at school, creating is so much more than this – give yourself too the time and space to explore as you would your child, and begin to express yourself through everything that you do. Read more about discovering our own creativity as mothers in my next post.