Creativity may seem important only for people who are involved in the artistic trade. Yet more and more in our society we see the real value of it. There have been links between creativity and problem solving abilities (Moyles, 1999) and increasing the ability to “think outside of the box”. If this is true then creativity is therefore significant if we are to encourage and help children be an independent and productive citizen of society.
One definition of may be “creativity is basically an attitude, one that come easily to young, but must be sustained and strengthened lest it be sacrificed in our too logical world (Marzollo and Lloyd, 1972).
We can therefore conclude that creativity is important, is interspersed with the arts and can be said to be innate in children, so how then do Montessori schools support creativity in young children? Creativity for Montessori is vital since she realizes that it is part of helping children discover or even create themselves since it is a means of self-expression. As a child grows up in this world, self-exploration/discovery is important in forming their being.
According to Montessori it involves three components, answering the questions:
- What is out there?
- What might I do with what is there?
- How can I carry out my abstract ideas.
The second idea realizes the formation of abstract thought and imagination that would allow us to create from what is seen in our own environment. The third idea being the most vital can be essentially carried out through communication. Communication is not only achieved by written and spoken language but in art as well as an integral part of symbolic language. (Lillard and Jessen, 2003). Montessori mainly supports the idea of independence, “I can do it for myself, I can think for myself. I can create.” (Miller,J, 2001).
This is achieved in Montessori classrooms by allowing or providing the child with art materials that are appropriate for them. Materials that do not frustrate them by being too difficult for them to use, but materials that they can confidently use themselves.
This is especially applicable for young children who are still developing their manipulative skills. For two year olds they are developing the use of their pincer grip this will allow them to use crayons. For two and half year olds with a more developed pincer grip, they can be given a coloured pencil and a small piece of paper for drawing. Coloured pencils are recommended since it allows for several things. It allows the freedom of expression besides permitting the child to learn about hand control by applying different pressures. The result, darker and lighter colours.
These pencils are also thin enough for a child’s hand to handle. Other similar objects that a child may be given are chalk, paint cutting activities, clay, pasting and the similar (Lillard and Jessen, 2003). Montessori also discourages ready-made craft kits since the goal of such activities are more oriented to the end product rather than the process itself. It is advisable that the child can be encouraged to use materials (recyclable) to be used for art. These can be scraps of paper, mixed materials, threads, wiring, textile, or other various materials that can be found around the house.
These materials can encourage creativity more than store bought crafts. As it challenges the child on how the different materials may be used depending on their imagination and creativity. A full set of coloured pencils and watercolours may be given to an older child of five years old when they will appreciate the materials and colours more. Art lessons are discouraged for really young children since at this age what they need is to be able to express themselves on their own as much as possible, as mentioned earlier. Art lessons may be taken as the child gets to the elementary age, in which they can learn the techniques better. As parents and adults to be able to further encourage the child to be creative, the adult should show interest, to take the child’s effort in their work seriously.
When a child is encouraged in the creative process this can also help increase their concentration, it allows them to lose themselves in their work as they engage themselves in the process completely (Miller,J, 2001). Since art and creativity go hand in hand it is then we look at how Montessori encourages art in the classroom. She realises the need for self-expression and having the means for communicating these ideas. She takes into mind the abilities of the child in this endeavour.