It is a time of global turmoil, uncertainty and difficulty. So why, especially at this time, would we want to focus on fostering creativity in our children?
One reason for this includes that the thinking skills surrounding creativity are widely accepted as being key twenty-‐first century skills, which our children, now more than ever, will need in order to be successful and happy. In our rapidly changing world, the ability to adapt our thinking and to innovate is vital to thriving in both life generally, as well as in our careers. Furthermore, the satisfaction derived from being creative, and the process of that creativity, is incredibly beneficial for wellbeing, for self-‐esteem, and for a sense of true achievement. During this period of global pandemic, in which we are looking for ways to boost our mental wellbeing, a focus on creativity could not be better timed.
I am the Head of Early Years, as well as the Designated Safeguarding Lead, at The British School Yangon. I therefore am very interested in both how best to set up our youngest learners with the greatest foundation for learning for life, as well as how to look after the wellbeing of our whole school community. Creativity has the potential to offer us answers for both aspects of this work.
Indeed, the best Early Years settings and practitioners aim to be the ultimate enablers of creativity and independent, critical thought. To that end, at The British School Yangon, we strive to ensure that our Early Years children are given the tools, the confidence and the freedom to explore, to investigate, to tinker, to problem solve, to find out what is possible, to innovate, to uniquely create.
So how can this be achieved? Well we know, from both extensive research in the field, and from our own experience, that children learn best through child-‐ centred play, combined with quality interactions with adults. The freedom to play, by way of the children’s natural curiosity, their desire to learn about the world around them, and their innate interest in exploring and striving to understand that which they come into contact with, leads to creativity as a authentic next step. If children are permitted to lead their own explorations, if they have the space and time to make their own decisions and choices, to take risks, to make mistakes, to work out what works – this is where creativity lies.
As the adults facilitating this, what we must do is to help focus the children on the process, the journey, as opposed to the end result. The end result will come, but it is the offer of the open-‐ended challenge, the encouragement of critical thinking skills, the urging of the generation of ideas, and the fostering of a willingness to fail, to retry, to be resilient, and to enthusiastically work towards an interesting endeavour. This is one of the reasons you will hear Early Years staff asking the children “I wonder…”, “I wonder what would happen if…”, “I wonder how else we could do this”. The staff are encouraging the children to think outside the box, to think around a challenge, to notice what is happening and think what the new possibilities could therefore be. They are actively fostering creativity, and therefore success.
As poet and novelist Margaret Atwood once said, “when nothing is sure, everything is possible”. It is creativity that gifts us these possibilities in an uncertain time.