How to Use Creativity to Support Other Areas of Development

How to Use Creativity to Support Other Areas of Development

By Paula-Elizabeth Jordan

 

I decided to write this article because I’ve heard from people I know who teach Art at secondary school level that it can often be “brushed off” (brushed off, ha!) by parents as “just Art”. So I want to show how creativity supports all others areas of develop and definitely isn’t just Art”. One thing I would like to start by saying is; have you noticed how Creativity is used in both and primary and pre-schools to support other topics the children are learning about? I can assure you that it isn’t just to provide lovely artwork to put up around the school! The main purpose of using creativity this way is to “cement” the learning to help make it visual so the children will remember. For example a very young child might not remember much of what they learnt about Divali the following year (unless they’re Hindu or Sikh), however they are definitely far more likely to remember making clay Diva Lights, or doing “henna mehndi” drawings. As far as I’m aware primary and pre-schools don’t actually do any henna on children’s hands, it’s just an outline of a hand on paper that the children can draw patterns on. The children know that people celebrating Divali put the henna on their hands and that’s an exciting concept for a young child, so they will remember. 🙂

 

Let me explain a bit more about why creativity is so effective as a support to all areas of development, and indeed a means of learning in itself before moving on to show exactly how it does so. All forms of creative artwork involve first, having to actively do something to produce the finished result. They also can often involve different types of media, which is exciting to experiment with when you’re young (and even when you’re a young adult!) and the end result is always Visual!  As Dr. Haig Kouyoumdjian states in an article entitled, “Learning Through Visuals” that can be found on the website Psychology Today; Words are abstract and rather difficult for the brain to retain, whereas visuals are concrete and more easily remembered.” So just to highlight; first a child has to take action to create any artwork. Plus, a lot of creative medias; painting, clay sticking, collage etc. involve use two senses that in other words can be described as two channels of learning, namely touch and sight. Second, then end result is Visual. This first makes it a very powerful tool for supporting all other areas of learning/ development. Plus due to its versatility creativity also serves as a means in itself of producing concepts that either cannot be represented at all, or as powerfully with words, written, or spoken. I will touch more on this later! 🙂

 

Ok, just before I demonstrate exactly how creativity supports all other areas of learning and development let me go through each area. The different areas of development are; physical, intellectual, linguistic, social, emotional and spiritual. The different learning areas are; language, maths, culture and creativity and in a Montessori environment you also have Practical Life and Sensorial, (please see my previous articles that cover most of these areas). For the benefit of everyone although intellectual development includes as outlined Jean Piaget the cognitive process of acquiring knowledge; assimilating and integrating it into ones existing knowledge. It also goes one step further too also include a person’s ability to then apply that knowledge in the World around them. So intellectual development includes all subjects in where one is required to accumulate more knowledge, understand how it adapts to their existing knowledge and be aware of how to apply it in the World around them. This obviously includes maths, the sciences, and geography etc. Now this has been clearly outlined I will demonstrate exactly how you can use creativity to support every area of your child’s learning. 🙂

 

Let’s start with Physical development. As I’m sure you’re aware it’s obvious that the main way creativity supports this area of development is that the child is required to use their gross/ fine motor skills, hand/ eye co-ordination and manual dexterity in the active process of creativity. The more opportunity a child is given to do basic forms of artwork such as drawing and painting that requires them to use both gross (big arms strokes) and fine (more purposeful movements) motor skills the easier they will be able to control a pencil when it comes to learning writing. Also, and this is more relevant for older children/ teenagers and adults who are more likely to choose to appreciate “the Arts” by going to galleries and museums etc. are obviously required to walk around them to look at all the different paintings/ exhibits. Walking is one of the most fundamental forms of physical exercise. 🙂

 

It’s more subtle how creativity supports intellectual development yet still has a huge impact when given the opportunity. Children given opportunity to engage in creativity activities naturally learn to focus for longer periods of time. I’ve also observed first with myself and with many of the children I have worked with that the ones who enjoy drawing and being creative in addition to retaining a good focus for longer begin to become self-motivated and will often initiate basic creative activities (drawing, colouring etc.) themselves. The better a child is able to focus; the more able s/he will be able to listen to what is being said to him/her. This is because a focus is a prerequisite of listening; one is simply unable to properly take in what another person is saying if they are not focused on listening. Modern research has shown especially with babies and small children that they need to be given eye-contact to be aware when someone is talking to them. I have observed this in my own observations with children I have worked with too. Therefore, a child able to focus learns to become a more effective listener. It’s profoundly obvious that the better one is able to focus and listen, the more one is able to take in information/ stimuli through all of their senses and thus will learn more. 🙂

 

Expanding on this point I would also like to highlight the fact that the creative process of representation, regardless of what media you choose to use, involves an acute level of observation. What other genre necessitates the use of acute observation? – All the sciences. Maria Montessori was a scientist and the wholeMontessori Method” was “discovered” as a result of her extremely acute level of observation! Throughout history science and art has gone hand in hand and I plan to go in to much further detail on this point in my second book. 🙂

 

With intellectual subjects such as maths, the sciences and geography creativity helps when you have to draw diagrams. First of all the more creative you are the more effective your diagrams will be, also the clearer they will be for future reference. I can give you a great personal example here:

When I completed the first half of my Montessori Training I was required to produce a large file for each area of the Montessori classroom that was full of diagrams to demonstrate how each activity is presented. Although we had to give written explanations in support, as Dr. Haig Kouyoumdjian pointed out the visual representation is far more effective for memory retention. My files were always heavily praised by my lecturer for having clear and beautifully illustrated diagrams. They continue to serve me well today! 🙂

 

Creativity supports language development first through the naming of the different types of media and techniques used, plus the names of all the different artists that children and teenagers have the opportunity learn about. Also, children can potentially learn a lot of adjectives simply by being asked through discussion to describe various pieces of artwork. For older children/ teenagers and adults who may frequent museums and art galleries etc. more often the written statements about each piece, plus, the discuss that a caring and conscientious adult would have with them about each/ most of the pieces is provides fantastic support to a child’s language development and depending on how frequently the child is taken will depend on how much the child’s vocabulary will increase! These types of activities and discussion also support intellectual development. 🙂

 

Visiting art galleries and museums etc. also obviously also supports social development. They promote shared interests and increase bonds between family and friends – depending on who you go with. This is because spending social time with someone is very relaxing and anybarriers” that may be put up by and individual in a more formal situation come down during a social situation and thus serve to increase their bond. This is also observed in the animal kingdom when animals groom each other socially to secure bonds in addition to getting rid of parasites. Hence emotional development is also nurtured. 🙂

 

Through experience both as a student and a (Montessori) Teacher I’ve been able to observe that during art lessons pupils relax more and chat whilst completing their artwork. It’s also a great opportunity for subconscious reflection that serves intellectual social and emotional development. First because it allows time for any “new information” to be both consciously and subconsciously analysed and processed. Second, if a child/ teenager has anything socially relatedon their mind” they are able to consciously and subconsciously reflect on the matter to help gainpiece of mind”. 🙂

 

I also feel that it’s important to point out here that “the Arts” also includes learning about different cultures such as the ancient Egyptians and the more insight one has into the culture of another the better equipped that individual is at understanding any different social norms of that particular culture. Reading books and learning about Body Language taught me that even European cultures have several different social norms to our own. So the more you know and appreciate the culture – that is often through learning about their art, religion and mythology – the greater advantage you have at being socially successful with individuals from that culture. This is also very useful in a business situation too! 🙂

 

I’ve already touch on a few points as to how creativity supports emotional development. Now I would like to show a crucial role creativity can play in supporting a child’s well-being. Ok, for children and people in general who find it more difficult to articulate their emotions creativity provides an alternative means in which to do so. First of all just think for a moment; in spite of what media you choose to use, it’s very calming creating an image on a “blank canvas” that can become anything that you choose it to be. For a small child who may have something on their mind that they have trouble articulating, art and creativity provide an excellent alternative of self-expression. There’s a therapy known as “Art Therapy” that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being”, (www.arttherapyblog.com). Another insight using art as a means of therapy can give is it enables the adult to see how a child perceives/ understands a situation. There is a charity named CoolTan Arts that in its own words; enhances mental wellbeing through the power of creativity. They run workshops and help people overcome obstacles. There’s even a forensic form of Art Therapy used in police work. Thus, art provides a huge platform to support people’s emotional well-being through a variety of creative processes. 🙂

 

How art and creativity support spiritual development I believe is very much personal to an individual. In my mind creativity keeps you connected with both the outside World and yourself because it provides a means of expression that connects the two. You can draw inspiration (draw inspiration – ha!!) from what’s around you or from within and create something totally new. Due to the vast variations of creative expression and the adaptable nature of using them as a form of expression this makes the Arts very accessible to anyone. This very versatile means of expression can help keep you connected to people from all different cultures and backgrounds through a shared interest. In my mind this helps one to maintain a spiritual balance and feel that outward and inward connection in unison. 🙂

 

Before concluding I would also just like to point out that there are a lot of very “Brilliantpeople in the World who “articulate themselves” in one way, or another through the creative arts. These would include film producers/ directors and actors and of course artists. Even David Attenborough uses a combination of his vast depth of knowledge about the natural World and an almost intuitive level of creative genius to make his nature documentaries. In my mind this was most evident in his series about plants and trees; before it aired there was speculation as to how interesting it would be. Afterwards people were saying; “Only David Attenborough could make a series about plant and trees that interesting!”  🙂

 

Also I would just like to finally point out that creativity is esteemed as a highly valuable trait by entrepreneurs who view it as an essential means to create business and turn No’s” into “Yes’s”! In addition to using creative thinking to start and grow and business – and this is demonstrated almost perfectly by the company Apple – they also use it as a way of remaining inspired to take continuous action. The best example of this is with Vision Boards that in brief use a collage of different medias to visually represent the goals of an individual, thus making them very personal. As my Mentor put forward it’s best to make Vision Boards as tactile as possible so you can really feel” each goal through more than one sense as this will help make the goal as tangible as possible thus increasing your likelihood to take action! I have a Vision Board in my Study. 🙂

 

In summary I would say that visual representations of what children are learning provides a fantastic means of cementing the learning to help make it concrete, especially in this modern World where everything is visual. It provides vital support for all other areas of learning and is especially useful due to its adaptability and versatility. Creative expression helps to promote and maintain health and well-being plus can connect people on a deeper, more spiritual level. Creative thinking is used throughout the Arts and by scientists and by entrepreneurs as a means of representation (films/ documentaries/diagrams etc.) and a source of inspiration that works to encourage continuous action. I would like to end with a reminder of a well-known expression; “A picture says a thousand words”. How powerful is that as a tool for making a “point” about something? – Especially a moral point. So please don’t brush offcreativity as being “just art”; because as I have demonstrated it is so much more and a vital part of human-development. 🙂

 

For more information please email me at: paula@paulaelizabeth.com or message me through Twitter/ Instagram @FamilyTeamCoach, and on Facebook/ LinkedIn at Paula-Elizabeth Jordan, thank-you! 🙂

 

 

expert biography

Paula-Elizabeth Jordan is a Montessori trained Child-Development Expert who’s passionate about helping “Family Teams” work together for the benefit of each other, as this is how successful, well-balanced, happy children are raised. She has been Montessori trained for over ten years now and also has a degree in Theology with an Art minor. She is presently writing her own book entitled; “How to Bring up A Successful Human-Being”. www.paulaelizabeth.com

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