Creative and art activities can help children in all areas of development this is why as parents and teachers we should plan them as a part of education with the child’s holistic development in mind.
From my experience, creativity has always been part of my life and my career and it is hard for me to find a success experience in which being “creative” hasn't been a key factor, even in the processes that are typically complex by its technical nature it has always helped me to solve problems and generate innovative proposals that helped me grew in the organizational world.
Being in charge of My Little Van Gogh has not only filled me with good experiences and personal and professional satisfactions, it has opened the door to a whole new world for me. I’ve been able to realise for myself that through imagination and exploration children are able to discover other worlds, not just imaginary ones, they open the door to the heap of possibilities that the real world offers them to explore with autonomy, security and trust.
At the end of the road I would like fill the world with children who in adulthood are able to think outside the box, share, negotiate and integrate themselves and others in society. The world needs people who can connect parts, objects and people that apparently are not linked. This is what creativity is for!
If you would like to know more about the importance to encourage creative expression in early ages please keep on reading. Here are 5 explicit benefits of enrolling children to participate in creative hands-on activities:
1. Develop their senses (sensory development)
Babies and toddlers maybe limited because their mobility and language are not fully developed, their senses are their main sources to connect with the world as a way of exploring and discovering it. The senses send information to child’s nervous system where it is processed to generate a response. A sensory experience can helps a child understand his environment more clearly and making him feel safe, or, it can be overwhelming, causing him/her to become defensive and withdrawn.
By allowing them to explore and interact freely with different materials, colours, textures, sizes, shapes, densities and temperatures we give them the opportunity to develop their senses, learn to differentiate materials, sounds and smells to start giving meaning to all what they feel and also to build their own perceptions of the world and ensuring that theirnlittle bodies learn to process, integrate, and generate appropriate responses to the sensory information in their environments.
2. Move all their body (Gross and fine motor development)
Creating is movement and many of the action involved in making art, such as holding a brush or scribbling with a pencil are essential for the development of fine motor skills in young children. Activities such as stacking, pouring, scooping and stirring also develop eye-hand coordination and squidging, pulling and moulding Play-Dough are great for muscle tone.
In our Kinder Atelier we not only stimulate the fine motor skills. We have a large wall and floor to paint with different types of objects to also work gross motor development. Painting, drawing or stamping on a wall or ground the allows children to use bigger arm movements that encourage strength and flexibility throughout the joints and muscles of the upper extremities.
3. Invite them to think and dream (Cognitive Development)
We love creating open-ended stations to offer endless possibilities. This asks the child to use their creativity, critical thinking and problem solving as they build and explore their ideas., come up with their own answers, discover the cause-and-effect of their actions, and feel confident about the choices they make. By the simple act of observing a cork, explore it and associate it with other context they start thinking of possibilities. What can I do with it? What are it’s qualities? When I’ve seen this before? are questions that might come to their minds, then they use adhesive tape to attach it to a piece of cardboard, add some buttons and click to ensure that the buttons don’t fall, then they do the painting. At the end of all this process they can name it "a city" and describe what each cork and button means, it is undoubtedly a complex cognitive process where they are developing the capacity of analysis, problem solving, cause-effect, memory, divergent thinking, language and of course, imagination. It might seem that they are just playing and getting messy but I can guarantee you that they are putting their minds to work at the highest levels.
4. Gives them the power to express themselves (Emotional development)
I truly believe that giving children the independence to interpret a range of situations as they wish empowers them. This opportunity to experiment and explore with freedom encourages creativity, break down language barriers and let them come to a new form of communication, giving them confidence to be independent and self directed. They will learn fast to take their own decisions and find different roads to create will lead them to learn that nothing can go wrong by making choices and expressing in their own way.
When the children are involved in “process oriented activities”, where the result it is not important itself, when they does not to have follow the pre-cutted shape or make exactly the same piece than the rest of their classmates, the sense of belonging and pride is reinforced, the motivation increase and they are more persistent. Even the smallest children can recognize their creations and are always happy to show them.
5. Allows the children to appreciate the differences (Social Development)
In the Atelier, when they using the same material but each kid interact and manipulate it in very different way, they learn to appreciate diversity, to respect differences, to value the ideas of other children and to get inspired by them, which allow them to learn that all their partners have something great to contribute.
The Atelier is also a favorable context for fun and play, a place where they can run together around the mural and paint each other, build cars and monsters together with Play-Dough and even paint on the same canvas that at the end is signed by two children. That’s the best sample of the cooperative art! It is also an ideal place to learn how to work in partnership, share and wait for turns. It is usual that everyone wants the same roller or the same brush, waiting their turn is part of the job and learning process.
As you can see, children active imagination can take form through art bringing plenty of possibilities that will help them develop skills that would lead them to invent something new, like a car that runs in solar power or a cure for cancer when they grow up. When you enter to this world possibilities are endless!