Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Creativity Builds Thinking Skills

What is the child in this picture thinking? If I were to guess, he is brainstorming the best placement of his scissors for the size of ribbon he needs for his collage resting on the table. Perhaps the ribbon is too thick or not thick enough. In that case, he'll have to search the table for alternate supplies. Maybe his caregiver will make a suggestion and together they will collaborate on the best solution. Brainstorming, searching for alternatives and collaborating are some of the critical thinking skills we need in life to succeed.

Creativity is a confluence of traits, capacities and skills. While some of us may not consider ourselves to be creative in the sense of known artists and musicians, the characteristics of creativity touch on the decisions we make on a daily basis. Here's what some of those characteristics look like from a developmental standpoint:

Infants are nurtured through sights, sounds and gentle touches. They learn to respond to the sounds of the human voice and noises in their environment. Given a stimulating environment and an attentive caregiver, babies discover that they can create change by what they see, hear or touch. Place rattles of varying sounds and textures in a baby's reach and he will explore them in various ways - shaking them, tasting them or dropping them and then exploring them again. In life, creating change leads to innovative solutions!
Crawlers and walkers become more deliberate and purposeful in responding to people and objects. Sing a familiar song or nursery rhyme over and over again. Then sing it again, only this time stop before you get to the last word or phrase. You may hear your child finishing the song for you. Learning to anticipate what happens next contributes toward making good decisions.

Young preschoolers are beginning to form mental pictures as they make sense of the sights and sounds of their world. Recreate some of their favorite story books by acting them out together. This helps build memory, a necessary component in school or work. At this age they may enjoy attending a performance or storytelling event.

When older preschoolers use their imagination with peers, they are learning to hone observation skills as they take their cues from another perspective. The older preschooler may enjoy creating simple performances with puppets and props. In addition, their growing interests in exploring clay and other art materials contribute towards learning to make choices and figuring out how to make things happen. Those thinking skills keep increasing in competency!
By the time your child enters school, he is looking at others' artwork and performance and developing an opinion - another higher level of thinking. Be sure and provide a space where your child can hang his artwork so others can look at and respond to it. You can model the importance of opinions by responding to creative examples in your home and community. What do you like or dislike about a painting or sculpture?

Older school-age children are ready to apply analytical thinking skills through discussions that offer their likes and dislikes about works of art, theater productions, stories, songs and poetry. At this age, they can share a judgment and, at the same time, take on the perspective of what another person may have been thinking. Your child may enjoy collecting music or poetry to share with others.
The pictures in this post were taken during one of our Higher Order Thinking Series™ Classes. These classes are offered to develop creativity and critical thinking skills through hands-on-art processes to build the creative mind. Children can discover more about themselves and their capabilities as they experiment with different art mediums such as paint, scissors and chalk. Click here for more information about our Creativity Classes. Consider attending one of our Tiny Great Performances™. For more information about the arts, read the report by the Task force on Children's Learning and the Arts, Young Children and the Arts: Making Creative Connections.

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