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Being creative at home

Hannah Hunter Hannah Hunter | 15:26 UK time, Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Christmas, for me, involves lots of home-made things - I love to sew, cook, draw and paint. So I thought that my children, by some kind of magical osmosis, would share my passion.

The little one, who isn’t yet two, is already making marks with crayons and generally getting stuck in. But her four year-old brother couldn’t be less interested! He’s far too busy playing with dragons, dinosaurs and aliens from outer-space to sit down and make something.

As a child, I can remember many pleasurable hours spent drawing and making things and I have worried about him missing out. However, he displays fantastic powers of imagination and creativity in his play-acting and story-telling.

color painted child hand @ picsfive - fotolia

We tend to see creativity in small children, as defined by the making of physical objects, but it doesn’t always manifest itself in this way – creative thinking is key to any creative process. Educationalist and expert on creativity, Ken Robinson, highlights the fantastically non-linear way in which small children think and he wants educators and parents, to try to keep these ways of thinking alive. He believes that in order to do this, we need to change the education system: making it less about test results and more about the individual student. It’s hard to disagree with his thinking.

This vision may be far from reality in schools, but we can encourage our children’s imaginative abilities at home, by providing a safe space to let their creativity run free. Many parents fear the mess of creative play – I’ve heard of more than one family who never paints or glitters at home, because of the clearing up. Whilst I’m not ready to embrace wall-scribbling, even if it satisfies a creative impulse, I don’t mind a bit of low-level chaos in the name of self-expression.

We all need to encourage our children, by giving them the space and tools to extend their creativity.  So for some that will be glitter, paint and glue, but for others it might be some plastic dinosaurs, a cardboard box and some string (well it works in our house!).  And I will just have to have a crafty Christmas with only one little helper (not withstanding the occasional sprinkle of glitter from a passing dinosaur).

Hannah Hunter is a member of the BBC Parent Panel.

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