Updated: Apr 26
Diverse children have different chances to succeed in school. Yet all children have the same jumping-off point. They are all born creative thinkers. It doesn’t take money to nurture this gift. Any teacher, parent or grandparent can foster it with the most minimal resources.
All toddlers practice innately the 5 E’s for a creative process: Explore, Experience, Examine, Elevate and Express. They explore their surroundings and experience with the materials they meet (Like a pot and cover). They examine those materials – Can you make a sound with them? Just let them go on, and they will come up with more ideas what to do with the materials, thus elevating – taking their inquiries to the next level. In the mean-time they express their inventiveness.
What’s important is to give them a safe space to explore this way, and to encourage expression with: “That’s a great idea, tell me more about it”, for example.
When my kids were little, we never bought a book or a theater ticket. Any library book served to inspire their inner world. A walk to school served to explore. Groceries were bought at the market, cheap, plentiful and fresh.
At the Dr. Erica Landau Institute for the Advancement of Children to Excellence in Creativity, in which I taught, resources were minimal. The focus was on conversing with the children, letting them experience with their ideas, and inviting them to present to their friends. In my Guidebook’s appendix there are many creative lessons plans for such teaching, with simple experiments like using boxes to learn about the greenhouse effect.
So, what does it take to raise creative thinkers?
Explore – Nurture curiosity, inspire with something new about the world, to start a creative thinking process. Ideas might sprout immediately or after a long time. But they need a wide basis of knowledge like fertile ground. When I wrote my stories, I first made a scientific and literary research. We want to give children the message that thoroughness leads to results.
Experience with creative educational strategies. Learning is best internalized when it involves the senses. Can you deliver a message in ways that animate the sight, the hearing, the touch? The bonus is that you also foster creativity, since engaging the senses usually adds movement and sound and makes things interactive. Creativity works best together with movement and sound -You know how ideas pop up when we commute or shower. Use strategies from art lessons. Dramatize a story, or rap a poem. Invite children to visualize something they learned with their bodies
Examine – Study the children to check what’s working best for each. What kind of activities? Observe them – What are they inclined to do best? Is it using their hands? Their minds? Both? Diplomatically guide the gifts the children are individually endowed with into practiced skills. Reflect yourself about feedback you gave to the kids, and think what to say next.
Elevate – Heighten thinking. Direct to think further. When they come to you showing something they did, ask a question to direct them to think more about it. Creativity is a matter of persistence. The more one takes time to develop an idea, the more original it becomes.
Express – your pride, joy and love. This means taking a step back, letting the children explore, experience, examine and elevate. Before they start say: “I’m looking forward to see what you come up with". Give encouragement and direction while they are at the process. Mirror their endeavors even with no more than your bright empathetic countenance. At the end ask them to describe what they did, debriefing their process. That enhances the ability to express, and leads to further ideation.
Keep pursuing creativity for yourself and for the children. Equity in education is possible. With this kind of approach, each child has the best chances to make the best of their individual creative potential. Help children be the best themselves to give each the best chances for life.
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