Childcare practitioners are taught that every child is an individual, and as such we need to cater for their specific needs. Practitioners are chosen for their individual skill sets that will hopefully compliment those of the other staff.
Equally children have their own individual skill sets that are just waiting to be developed by sympathetic staff. Children need to be allowed freedom of choice and individuality so that their true self can shine through, and their creativity develop.
Historically, nurseries (including ours) and schools have fallen into the trap of having the children produce cards for different celebrations. As practitioners we have provided the same resources for every child, and expected them, with lots of adult intervention, to make cards for Valentines, or Mother’s Day for example. But if we look at it from the child’s point of view, there is nothing enjoyable about making the same item as everyone else. Nothing is more frustrating than being told to keep it in the lines, or to use this or that colour.
Let children be creative
Nothing kills creativity more than mass production, and children need the opportunities to develop their own style and imagination. Who says that all chicks have to be yellow, or have two eyes?
The best that we can do for our children is to surround them with examples of art and real-life pictures. For example, show the children what a horse looks like in a book, photo or in real life; let them hear the sounds they make, how they smell etc. Talk about where they live and what they eat so the child can develop an affinity with the object of interest. Then if the child wants to draw, paint or model a horse or any other item, we should make sure we provide the right materials for them to do so.
We should talk with them about the whole process, before during and after so they feel their efforts are appreciated and their learning opportunity has been utilised fully.
Children need multiple opportunities to experiment with different mediums and their horse may be purple with red eyes. Their interpretation may be from a book at home, a TV programme or simply because they like that colour. The important factor is it is their own work and specific to them.
We as practitioners and parents should recognise their efforts and talk about their colour choice, for example, to try and build up a picture of what the child was thinking.
At Genesis, we aim to teach independence and to foster creativity. We plan activities based on children’s interest and their developmental needs. We believe that during their early years we should present our children with numerous opportunities to develop their own style of creativity and not confine them to an ‘en masse’ approach.
So please don’t be disappointed if your child does not bring home a Mother’s Day or Easter card home. Know that we will be exploring celebrations in all kinds of ways, but we won’t be sitting down each child to produce the same card as everyone else.