Guiding Your Child's Early Learning: Creative Expression (page 3)
This section might be better named “The Arts and More” — because while the arts may be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words “creative expression,” there is a lot more to creativity than making pretty pictures.
Your child has a natural desire to express herself and to create. Expression can come in the form of words, or it can come through the arts — painting, drawing, dancing, making music, sculpting and dramatic play. It can also come in the form of ideas, such as looking at a problem in a new way to find a brilliant solution, mediating conflicts with peers, making choices and showing leadership.
Through language, the arts and ideas, your child is able to be creative without worrying about what other people will think — an anxiety that often inhibits adults and diminishes our creative urges. As Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when he grows up.”
What You Can Do
- Have a positive attitude about your own creativity. Even if you don’t think of yourself as artistic, share your love of the arts, or create something together with your child.
- Give your child the gift of time. Creativity shouldn’t be rushed, so try to allow him to finish his projects at his own speed.
- Have a variety of creative materials on hand. Playdough, markers, glue and paper are simple and easy to find or make, and your child can use these items independently.
- Acknowledge your child’s creative efforts. Remember that creativity isn’t about making something that looks conventionally beautiful. Your child is more interested in the process of being creative — and that is what you should encourage. Too much emphasis on the product can make your child feel like he can’t measure up to adult expectations.
- Display your and your child’s artwork to show you value what he created or what you created together.
- Expose your child to music. You don’t need an extensive CD collection; just turn on the radio and you’ll find many types of music to enjoy.
- Incorporate movement with music. Dance, march or rock your child to sleep, with a volume and rhythm that matches the activity.
- Collect clothes, hats and shoes for dress-up play and keep them in a special place.
- Admire artwork at museums, libraries and in books. Fine art isn’t just for adults!
A Family Activity: Turn on the Radio and Dance!
You can find almost any kind of music on the radio: classical, country, rock and roll ... you name it. Maybe you remember when your child first stood upright; he liked to bounce up and down to the rhythm of the music. As a preschooler, he may move his body in a much more sophisticated way. He can twirl, jump and move from side to side or up and down. We can all move our bodies to music, whether we’re standing or sitting. Make big movements. Make small movements. Move fast or slow. Move like animals or machines. Move like a soccer player or move like a ballet dancer. Wear your regular clothes or dress up to dance. Dancing to music is good exercise for your child, and for you, too. Don’t forget to laugh at yourselves!
How Does Dancing to Music Help Promote Creative Expression?
Because dancing to music is something anyone can be good at, it is a creative activity that isn’t judged or subjected to comparison. It can express a variety of feelings, and help children show their understanding and interpret their experiences. It is playful, and can be used to represent stories, moods and ideas. When you add scarves or musical instruments, (use containers with rice inside as “shakers” or wooden sticks) dancing becomes an activity that uses “tools” of creativity and expands your child’s experiences. Your child’s imagination is also at work — so dancing can represent both fantasies and real-life experiences.
Children’s books that promote creative expression:
- Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran
- Clap Your Hands by Lorinda Cauley
- Pretend You’re a Cat by Jean Marzollo
- Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
- Matthew’s Dream by Leo Lionni
- Max Found Two Sticks by Brian Pinkney
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