As many of you may know, the transition to 'big kid school' is on our doorstep, and I continually question what is the best path for Princess Pea - which is the best school option for her? She is so full of wonder and creative spirit, and I've been very conscious of nurturing that spirit in everything we do. I want her to be in an environment that will help her to grow her creativity, not 'teach it out of her'.
As an EAL teacher, I hear the concerns of many parents who are new to our school and want to know that it's the best school for their children. I reassure them that our school upholds high academic standards, that their children are learning and growing, that each child receives the attention and support needed to achieve and succeed.
For me as a parent, however, it's not a question of academic standards. It's a question of developing creativity. Will she be encouraged to think independently? To experiment? To play? To explore? To create? Will she be taught how to inquire and problem-solve and develop new, creative solutions? For me, it's not math or reading or academic standards that are all-important. For me, creativity is the key to success - success in every aspect of life.
At a recent open question period for prospective school administrators, I asked one of the candidates what one thing they believed was the most important thing for students to be able to do by the end of their time at our school. He responded 'read well', with the argument that the children who are good readers will be able to learn the most, and will therefore be the successful leaders of the future. Sorry, but that's the wrong answer in my books. Successful leaders aren't born out of good reading skills. Successful leaders are born out of creative thinking. Good readers will be good at learning about other people's ideas. Creative thinkers will be good at generating their own ideas.
I have been lucky enough to get an advance copy of this inspiring ebook and to have had the opportunity to ask Jillian a few questions about how I can raise my own kids to be creative. Here's what she had to say:
1. As a parent and as a teacher, how can I help my children to develop their creativity?
Absolutely! Our art center has grown over the past couple of years and now takes up half the play room. M and M wouldn't have it any other way. The more accessible creative materials are the easier it is for art and projects to become part of their everyday. Having the ability to make a raft out of craft sticks because your lion needs to cross the raging river you have built out of blocks is INCREDIBLE. There is no end to the imaginative play you can experience when you can create what you need, when you need it. Some suggestions:
- Keep materials accessible so that your kids can easily see and reach what they need.
- Use recycled materials like egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, wrapping paper, birthday cards, etc.
- Keep the area organized. This will avoid the overwhelming feeling too much stuff can cause.
- Use a kid sized art table or art mats, so they are not worried about the "mess".
3. As a parent, what should I be looking for in a school that I hope will nurture my child's creativity instead of squashing it?
* Wow, Jillian, this is a light-bulb moment for me! THANK YOU! That makes perfect sense - balance!
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