Thursday, September 22, 2011

on courage and creativity

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So the past couple of days have been a little busy. First, Ro's cold had made her adenoids swell, which translates to trapped mucus and an awful phlegmy cough. What are adenoids you ask? They're spongy tissues at the back of the nasal cavity which help keep the body healthy by trapping nasty things that are breathed in or swallowed. How did we find out? She went for a nasopharyngoscopy. Yup.

I have to say, I was a little anxious, because, after all, she is only three. But she just proved: "God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power", whatever our age. She did not say one word throughout the whole thing, she did not flinch, she never complained. And at the end of it, she demanded some stickers and sweets, like any spirited, confident child should.

Then, I had some custom orders to get done. Painted dolls which are quite time-consuming. But my most demanding customer of all was Becky, who, as you know, is now a grown... girl (well hey, she recently turned 7 you know!). She has embarked on a new project -- an actual blog of her own.

Well obviously, I had to help her with the technical stuff and teach her some blogging basics (yeah! me! Miss Techno Expert!) (can someone please tell me why her followers aren't showing up on her blog page?). But I didn't really mind; I felt it would be good writing practice for her, and also provide another platform for her creative endeavours.

Well, on the one basic level, I have to say I am pretty pleased with her spelling. But on another, deeper level, I am glad to see how enthusiastic, how full of ideas, she is, how earnestly she considers her words, how diligently she writes (and works on her keyboarding skills).

I leave the whole thing pretty much to her, I don't interfere or pass any judgments. I read a good article on this topic, at A Place of Our Own. In answering a question on encouraging children's creative expression, early childhood educator Susan Baxter says, "Creativity is a person’s expression of their inner-self...

"Play encourages creativity whenever it is child directed. It is that simple. Provide a safe space and open-ended materials, and affirmation where needed and the child does the rest. We actually do not need to encourage creativity in children – it is spontaneous and natural. Most often, children need to encourage the parent to let them design their own play and step back.

"Children are creative by nature. We all are. It’s sometimes, we, as adults, who do not feel very creative. I often wonder who told us that we were not and why we believed them. Adults have a great deal of power in the development of a child’s nature. We need to be very mindful of how we direct and interact with children...

"I have been using the term “open-ended” which helps explain the types of materials that are best suited to creativity. The best materials are ones where the child brings definition to them. The items that the children love the most are the ones that cost the least...

"Children’s freedom to make their own choices is creativity. Choice means you are making a decision about something that is personal to you. What it really communicates to children is that we trust that they can make decisions for themselves and that we value their participation in our daily lives...

"Don’t correct children if they express themselves in an unconventional manner. I know that when it happens to me at my age I do not like it and it is no different with children. If we correct children, we communicate that we do not value their individual differences. It also undermines the child’s confidence.

"Creativity requires a certain amount of risk and confidence because you are putting a part of your inner-self “out there.” The best way to shut creativity down is to “correct it.” If the unconventional expression is not hurting anyone and no one is in danger, then I do not see it as wrong or something that should be corrected. Mistakes, as they say, are really just learning opportunities, which are born out of creativity. Mistakes are teachable or learning moments" (read the whole article here).

Honestly, I think it's pretty much a crime to squash a child's creativity. So I encourage and support my kids' creative endeavours however, wherever I can. I remember how, when I was little, my one aunt would be quite indifferent, disparaging almost, about things I'd drawn, or stories I'd written. I might have worked so hard on the thing, and she'd give it about two seconds of her time. It was really quite deflating. The message was distinctly, "Yeah, that's nice, but it's not really useful is it?" (plus sub-message, "Why don't you be more like so-and-so whose future is set because she's so staid, conventional and good at math?").

PBS has a good article on this topic too: "There is nothing more satisfying and fulfilling for children than to be able to express themselves openly and without judgment. The ability to be creative, to create something from personal feelings and experiences, can reflect and nurture children's emotional health...

"Creative experiences can help children express and cope with their feelings. A child's creative activity can help teachers to learn more about what the child may be thinking or feeling. Creativity also fosters mental growth in children by providing opportunities for trying out new ideas, and new ways of thinking and problem-solving" (read the whole article here).

In the meantime, Beck is looking for followers ;)

3 comments:

Mongs said...

your girls are so cute! Hope Ro feels better soon. Well looks like aunty mongs gonna be becky's follower

love,mongs
mythriftycloset.blogspot.com

Kris said...

what's B's blog address? email me? :p

I'm Abigail said...

Your girls are just beautiful!

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