How to create a creative educational environment at home and at school?

Updated: Apr 26

Fractal leaf image for blog post about creative educational environment by Michelle Korenfeld from Raising Creative Thinkers (c)

In inGenius – A Crash Course on Creativity prof. Tina Seelig tells about tests prospective students at All Soul’s College, Oxford University, had to take. They were given a note with one word, like “provocative” or “water”, and were expected to write a whole essay about it.

Are your children or students prepared for such a task? I don’t mean linguistically. I mean creatively. Will they have ideas to write about? This is about showing their personality and ingenuity.

How do we prepare students to creatively express?

We need to start building their confidence to play with ideas, that is to think creatively, and to express, at early age.

The 5 E’s can give us direction. Those are 5 core practices for raising creative thinkers:

  1. Explore – nurture curiosity to discover the world, enrich.

  2. Experience – play with the new information we drew in

  3. Examine – Check out the ideas we drew on

  4. Elevate – Take our ideas to the next level

  5. Express – Write about or present our enhanced ideas – the products of our minds.

At early age, arrange the house or the class as a world to explore. Tolerate the mess. Scatter books or educational toys around. Let the children go from one to the other at their own time, finding creative ways to play and coming up with ideas.

As teens let them explore even more. My teen likes to plan her DIY before going to sleep. She examines her idea and elevates it, practicing creative thinking that helps her find sleep. The day after she experiences with her novelty. This is how her old Flamenco shoes turned into a work of art decorating her room to her and our great pleasure.

It is our responsibility to provide children with enrichment that challenges their minds and arises curiosity. Then we step aside and let them explore. We give them space and time to experience, examine and elevate. We serve as guides helping them channel their ideas into language.

With rich inner worlds, their minds engaged in materials to toy with, they will generate interesting things to express.

It is important to accept that if they seem to waste time just playing with something, there may be some intense unseen creative thinking taking place.

So, you see, international exams cause us to put strain on the children. More and more of their learning becomes structured. Whereas what we should do is let go a bit. Give them time and space to think.

Stress is not good for inviting creativity. Creative educational environments at home or at class are based on a caring empathetic approach.

Remember the song You Can’t Hurry Love? Do we believe we can hurry love nowadays, too? Let’s not hurry learning.

When I read inGenius, I asked my daughters what they thought about the One Word Test. They said: peace of cake. They have grown up based on the 5 E’s. Their problem was they didn’t have opportunities to practice creative thinking at school. All this creative thinking having to shrink and accommodate expectations.

Let’s not do that anymore. Let’s step into the roles of the 21st century educators to mentor, guide, and direct. Today’s children are natives of the digital age. We can’t compete with that. But we have at least 10 years more life experience than them. They need us.

It’s like there’s a well of ingenuity that needs educational direction toward expression. It is our responsibility to respond to this need.

The drawing I chose for this post is of the leaf which is like a hand. I drew it with colored pencils, that every child has. The living leaf is a whole that is built of intricate and delicate parts. Some say about this drawing that it is a fractal. Children are still this kind of creatures. They need time to flourish with care.

Michelle Korenfeld

Raising Creative Thinkers -

21st Century Project-Based and Social-Emotional Learning lesson plans, stimulating teacher training, teaching tools, and best children’s STEAM book

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