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Understanding the role of creativity in early childhood learning

Creativity Children

Creativity is a defining aspect of the human condition. We began painting on the walls of caves at least 50,000 years ago. And creativity has helped us to overcome challenges and prosper as societies.

Human beings innately know that being creative is good for us. Creativity makes us feel good.

There’s an abundance of research that supports its role in learning and wellbeing. For children especially, the act of creativity stimulates learning, and creative experiences impact on learning throughout their lives.

The Early Childhood Education National Quality Standard pays particular attention to creativity. It refers to:

  • Imagining and creating roles, scripts and ideas
  • Sharing stories and symbols of their culture
  • Re-enacting stories
  • Using the creative arts such as drawing, painting, sculpture, drama, dance, movement, music and storytelling to express ideas and make meaning
  • Experimenting with ways of expressing ideas and meaning using a range of media
  • Beginning to use images and approximations of letters and words to convey meaning

The Reggio Emilia learning philosophy also promotes the importance of creativity, particularly through the Atelier. The meaning of Atelier is a studio or room where an artist works with materials to experiment and explore.

In educational practice, the Atelier is a place of exploration. Children collaborate with educational leaders and professionals such as architects, dancers, musicians, designers, people of other cultures and even engineers and physicists. The focus is on enhancing discovery, unlocking creativity and building a child’s understanding of their experiences.

The Atelier is a place of wonder and excitement that invites children to research, explore, test out theories, investigate and build. Areas of exploration can include light, modelling with clay, and constructing their own landscapes. Children can explore by participating in cultural dance and expressing themselves with movement.

The kitchen can be used as an Atelier of tastes and new experiences. Cooking becomes a means of building community, along with experimenting with and tasting food in collaboration with the chef.

Additional magic that springs from the use of the Atelier is its role in creating learning opportunities with no prescribed boundaries, which nurtures unbridled curiosity.

Early Learning Centres have a direct responsibility to encourage creativity through the environment they provide to children, their curriculum and the activities that bring the curriculum to life. Of special importance is the role of the educator as collaborator – working with children to enhance the exploration, discovery and understanding of the experience.

Creativity is a great gift to all people that needs encouragement without judgement. The opportunities we provide for children to create, live with them throughout life.

Doesn’t that make you feel good?

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