The Importance of Creativity for Children

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It is often thought that teaching children art, music and drama is not as important as teaching them Maths, Technology and Science. Creative subjects have been maligned and are seen as frivolous time wasters. They are seen as merely part of “playtime” and that the most important subjects to teach children are academic. What’s the point of teaching little Jacob art as he’ll hardly make a living as an artist, will he?

Truthfully, to think this is not altogether incorrect. The chances of someone making a decent living on an artist’s wage are slim. However, children should not be taught creative subjects with the idea that they will grow up to be the new Banksy, or the new Adele or the new Cumberbatch (best surname ever by the way). No, children need to be taught creative subjects as creativity is needed in any job that they will end up doing. Whether they are an accountant, a scientist, a teacher, a secretary, a shop assistant or a lawyer. They will be required to use their mind creatively.

One of my all time favourite heroes, educationalist Sir Ken Robinson’s (he’s definitely invited to my dream dinner party) definition of creativity is:

I define creativity as the process of having original ideas that have value. Creative work in any field often passes through typical phases. Sometimes what you end up with is not what you had in mind when you started. It’s a dynamic process that often involves making new connections, crossing disciplines and using metaphors and analogies.

He goes on to debunk some myths surrounding creativity:

There are various myths about creativity. One is that only special people are creative; another is that creativity is just about the arts; a third is that it’s all to do with uninhibited “self-expression”. None of these is true. On the contrary, everyone has creative capacities; creativity is possible in whatever you do, and it can require great discipline and many different skills.

Considering that the same areas of the brain that are used to create music, are also used during mathematical processing, you can see how encouraging creativity can benefit across the board. You can watch Sir Ken’s excellent TED talk on the subject here

So, why is it so important for children to be taught creativity at an early age. Can’t we just encourage adults to think creatively in their jobs?

There have been numerous studies that show children’s experiences early on in life can greatly influence the developing brain. Children are born with billions of neurons, but only a small portion are connected to each other. Throughout childhood the connections that are underused are cutback to make the brain more efficient. The connections that are used regularly become stronger. Therefore, the optimum time for people to develop skills are in the early years of childhood. As you may have often heard before, the early years develop the foundations of a person.

Creative play fosters cognitive and social development. Crucially, it also helps nurture problem solving skills. Critical thinking and social skills are vital for a person once they join the workforce.

Whilst academic subjects such as Maths and Science are important, creative subjects are as important. Without the nurturing of creativity, our society will stagnate and languish. We won’t see new inventions that will help enable people and create a more dynamic society. We won’t see new cures for diseases. We won’t find easier and more efficient ways of doing things, thus deterring a more economically sound society. Our progress will halt and everything our ancestors have done for us, will seemingly be futile. For society to be able to progress and evolve, new ideas need to be “created”, new and innovative ways of doing things need to be discovered and implemented. This progress with society is not possible without creativity.

Sir Ken believes that the current education system is stifling children’s creativity due to more focus on academic subjects and the way subjects are taught. There are already studies that show a child’s creativity starts to decline once they enter schooling.

Nobody knows what the future of this planet and the human race holds. These are unpredictable times. We need all the creative thinking that we can get. Creativity is not to be sniffed at.

So in short, let your child do as many rubbish paintings as they like, let them build countless structures with Lego, let them role play, let them try out the violin and let them sing to their heart’s content. Children are the future and all that.

 

The Book Lover’s Tag

So, the superhot Gary at Fiction is Food nominated me to give you the lowdown on the following questions all related to loving books, which I do. A lot. Ever since, as a 5 year old, I cast my eyes upon the Roger Red Hat et al books, reading is my very favourite thing to do. For such a sociable person, I love the solitude and escapism it provides me. I’ll stop blathering on now and give you my answers.

Do you have a specific place for reading?

Whilst I have inherited my Father’s love of reading, I definitely don’t follow in his footsteps when it comes to where I choose to read. His place to read was annoyingly on the latrine. We only had one toilet in the house, so once Daddy was in there with a book, we had hours to wait to use the loo. Anyway, my specific place to read is undoubtedly in the garden, in the sun. If it’s not sunny, then on the sofa. However, when I am super rich, I will have my own reading room. It will have the most comfortable chair that looks out of a large south-facing window. The room will have floor to ceiling shelves upon shelves of books and I will be the only one allowed in this room. This will be where I will read.

Bookmarks or random pieces of paper?

I have a beautiful bookmark made for me by my daughter. It has a picture of ET that she drew on it and it has been everywhere with me. She made it 4 years ago and it’s still going strong.

Can you just stop anywhere or must it be at the end of chapter?

I can stop anywhere, but one prefers it to be at the end of the chapter.

Do you eat or drink whilst reading?

Tea, tea and more tea. If I’m feeling particularly decadent then wine. I generally don’t do any eating whilst reading though. Too distracting.

Music or TV whilst reading?

I love listening to music. I love watching TV. And I love reading. But never shall the twain meet.

One book at a time or several?

I used to be a one at a time girl, but now I can keep several on the go at the same time…wait, what were we talking about again? Oh books. Yeah me too. Definitely talking about books, I was.

Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?

Circumstantially, it happens to be at home. Pre-having children and giving up my career, I read only on the commute to and from work. Though obviously, my preference would be elsewhere, if it’s abroad in the sun, looking at some stunning landscape.

Read out loud or silently?

Silently. I’m not 5.

Do you read ahead or skip pages?

I’m not a monster. One NEVER skips pages or reads ahead.

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

I neither break the spine or try to keep it like new. I’m a fan of natural wear and tear. Much like arthritis.

Do you write in your book?

I’m no longer a student, so no. If I particularly like a sentence or paragraph, I make a note of it somewhere separately or take a photo of it.

I thought I’d add some extra questions because I am self obsessed and find myself terribly fascinating (but I’d also be interested in reading other people’s answers to these questions).

What book are you reading now? 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Favourite childhood book?

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

All time favourite book?

Yeah, so this is kind of impossible to answer (why did I give myself this question?!), but it would be between Paddy Clarke HaHaHa by Roddy Doyle, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Wild Swans by Jung Chang or The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Actually, I think I need a whole separate blog post for this question as I’ve just thought of 20 other contenders.

Now I need to nominate some others to answer these questions. Sorry if you’ve been nominated before. Just point me towards the relevant post, if you have been.

  • Lisa at Lisa’s Ramblings a lovely lady, who not only writes a lot about books, she also writes about all types of other important issues. Not to mention the fact that she is a YA author herself.
  • Angela at You are Awesome the gorgeous Angela is another author and her blog covers social commentary and real life stories about inspirational people.
  • Christine at I’m Sick and So Are You the very, very funny Christine writes about her illness honestly and inspirationally. She’s also bloody funny, did I mention that?
  • Em at Em Linthorpe Em is ace. She won’t tell you this, so I will. She also writes about a plethora of subjects including parenting, health, life and does fabulous photography around Cumbria.

Cheers!

Chilled Summertime Playlist

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I’ve gone and done another playlist. This time it’s for chilled out summer days, where all you want to do is drink Pimms, eat Cornettos and soak up all the Vitamin D whilst it lasts. So slap on the SPF, spark up your BBQ and play these lovely summery tunes.

Expect lots of old school soul, Neo-soul, and a bit of 60s pop, rap, reggae, jazz, indie and The Fresh Prince. You’re welcome.

Which one is your favourite? Mine’s probably the Mamas & the Papas (though I love every single song).

 

Curly Girl Issues

So, if like me you have unruly, curly, frizzy hair there are problems that you have to deal with that only us Curly Girls can truly understand. Here’s just a handful of them.

When you’re watching Brave and Merida wakes up in the morning and you think “Mate, I feel your pain” (and you have to have been with your partner for at LEAST several decades before you let them see your morning hair).

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When having your hair rained on means your hair ends up resembling Phil Spectar’s. On a good day.

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When the weather is hot, your spirit animal becomes Monica Geller in Barbados.

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When your straight haired friend complains of their hair getting a bit frizzy in the rain.6717335be79db197a7fe9ec77f2d2b7c

When you have red, curly hair and you hilariously get compared to either Merida, Rebekah Brooks or worse Spuggy from Byker Grove. No actually, the worst is Mick Hucknall.

When you look back at photos of yourself from the 80s and/or 90s and you’re just grateful that social media didn’t exist back then.

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When your straight haired friend tries to give you advice on how to control your curls “Have you tried just using a bit of Frizz Ease?”.

Genius idea, it’s not like I’ve already tried using every single product available for curly hair in a pathetically vain attempt to control my hair already. Good one. I suppose you’re going to suggest I try brushing my hair too

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Do you remember that time you had a good hair day? Yeah, you remember, it was back in 2003. In June. On a Tuesday.

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When you’ve just styled your hair and you’ve done it all wrong and the only way to fix it, is to jump in the shower and wash your hair all over again.

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When your hairdresser suggests cutting you a fringe (and you never go to that hairdresser again as they clearly know nothing about curly hair. Also, do they not remember Spuggy?!).

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When you see all the wonderful, different hairstyles your straight haired friends can get and your choices are short or long and side parting or centre parting.

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When your straight haired friends say they can use any old shampoo and conditioner off the shelf.

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Even worse, when they announce they don’t even use conditioner.

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When it’s been windy outside.

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But when you’re pretty sure that having curly hair somehow gives you super powers.

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So curly girls (and boys), is there anything that I’ve missed out? Do you love your curls or hate them?

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The stress of having curly hair (it’s ok, I like my curls really)