It’s time to take a moment to reflect on your childhood memories. What activities was it that you used to do on your own that required imagination, innovation and creation?
Well, if you asked my sister, (and this is something we still talk about) mine was making mud pies, or combination soups. Yep, back in the good ole 70’s, I would conjor up some mud pies, whack them in my sisters pram (which in my eyes made for a very awesome transportable oven) and offer them to all and sundry. (The only problem with this was that is was her favourite pram, and I also believe that it was velvet.)
Those memories of my childhood innovation and creation are as strong as they were enjoyable, I can remember the smells, the sounds and the sights. So, what about yours? What were they, and how strong are those memories today? Well, the fantastic part about all of this, is that childhood creativity, that natural sense of playing, making and doing, is a precursor for adult innovation? By allowing our children to be creative, we are helping to
- wire their brain to think out of the box,
- help them problem solve,
- be innovative,
- be creative,
- promote free thinking,
- and exploration.
So, this got me thinking, as an and educator and parent of children 2015, what is it that I am doing to allow my boys to be creative? How is this fostered in our household? Hmmm….. so I after a bit of thought I came up with a few ideas.
We have an art box – gets refilled all the time with little bits and pieces for them to create and make things. The discarded nappy boxes have been used oodles of time to create different concepts – fire engines, planes, washing machines, etc. They make cubby houses inside and out. We have bubble baths full of various inventions. We have sandpits they can play and build in, and in our kids play gym at the back there are pulleys with buckets attached. Discarded bottles make for boats, we investigate if they sink or float. Sometimes we get torches and camp under the beds. Sometimes we help, other times we encourage them to build/make things on their own (they get frustrated, but learn to persevere to get it done). In the busyness of the day we encourage outside play where they can run, jump, explore without interference from us.
I can recall (way back in my early, very early uni days) Piaget’s theory on childhood. If I remember correctly, he believed that in order for a child to learn best, he must do so of his own accord, and out of his own curiosity.
“Piaget’s theory of cognitive development is a comprehensive theory about the nature and development of human intelligence. Piaget believed that one’s childhood plays a vital and active role in a person’s development. Piaget’s idea is primarily known as a developmental stage theory. The theory deals with the nature of knowledge itself and how humans gradually come to acquire, construct, and use it. To Piaget, cognitive development was a progressive reorganization of mental processes resulting from biological maturation and environmental experience. He believed that children construct an understanding of the world around them, experience discrepancies between what they already know and what they discover in their environment, then adjust their ideas accordingly.”
His example was as teachers we are best to observe the child and allow him to make his own mistakes. What I am suggesting is that we learn best and most powerfully by experience both as a child and as an adult – NOT necessarily by being forced through someone else’s preconceived notions. The problem as I see it both in our schools, and homes is that slowly a child’s ability to engage their curiosity and to ignite their innovation is being squeezed out through a crowded curriculum, and a lack of ‘play’ with too much television, or structured play/lessons.
When you stop to consider what kids to best……it is to play, to make believe, to model what they have seen, to design, to make mistakes and try again. I fervently believe this needs to be harnessed, nurtured and developed instead of stymied.
So, what are your kids going to get up to today? How are you going to ignite their natural curious instincts in your classroom or at home?