Allow children to be children creative, exploring they are only young once!
Allowing children to be children might well be the best thing for their education. Life gets pretty serious quite quickly in the life of a child. There’s a lot of pressure to learn from an early stage. There is mathematics to master, there’s a rush to develop reading, writing and speech as early as possible. For good reasons.
In a world that spins ever faster, perhaps it’s time to take stock
In the rush to educate our children, sometimes we forget to just let them be children. Being a child and doing childish things can be about more than just having fun – although it tends to look like that to an adult. The kind of exploratory play children take part in can be crucial to their development, that ability to solve your own problems, to experiment and tries things out, can be an essential life skill. There are an extraordinary number of problems in life that cannot be solved simply by the application of mathematics – or reading, or writing, for that matter.
As soon as we start to see our child learn in a way that we, as an adult, can relate to, then there is a tendency to see them as a mirror. We remember things that worked well for us, we think of the educational goals we wish we had achieved sooner, so we tend to push them. After all, there’s nothing wrong in wanting good things for your child, in wanting more for them.
But as adults, we tend to forget about all that great play, as well.
Play gives context to education, to life. Play promotes problem solving, creativity and imagination, helps master certain skills. Deeper than this, though, it allows children to express their thoughts and ideas, to have experiences that carry meaning for them, and even to reflect upon those experiences afterwards.
Steps to a carefree, creative childhood
So how might we nurture this type of creativity and exploration? Well, for one thing, don’t take over. One of the most tempting things for a parent to do when they see their child trying to solve a problem, is to help. We want them to succeed, to get through things more quickly and, when we can see the answer (so obvious to an adult) right in front of us, it is tempting to point it out. Don’t.
That said, helping your child is okay, especially if they ask for help. But even then, try not to give all the answers, so that any eventual success will belong to them. Children need a real sense of freedom to do their best creating. So they need to be in a safe, relaxed environment where you’re around, just not… hovering.
Give them opportunities to choose. Not just in how or what they play, but in other aspects of life, as well. By having to choose, a child learns to live with the consequences of these choices. (Or they may try and blame you, but then just gently remind them who made the decision).
Don’t become flustered with failure
Failure is okay. In fact, to a certain extent, it can be considered healthy preparation for life. Success is not necessarily measured by grades or points or scores, but by the experience as a whole. “Okay, we didn’t win, but what have we learned? Did we have fun?” Try not to solve problems purely by the end result, but as a process where each success has its own value that will (hopefully) lead to the final success.
As they grow older
Even as your children get older, try and make creativity a part of every day. As life becomes more rigid, allow them that time to explore and experiment still. Make sure their creativity is always appreciated, that you value the way they express themselves. In a parent-child relationship, respect works two ways. If you see your child as the original, capable individual they probably actually are, then you will find yourself treating them that way, and they will feel that way, too.
Image Credits: C♥lleen