Early Childhood educators often talk about the importance of teaching the whole child. This includes not only focusing on academic subjects but their social skills and fostering creativity as well. With the increase of rigor in today’s education curriculum, there seems to be less and less time for teachers to focus on other aspects that develop the whole child.
With increased time focused on academics, play is being pushed aside. As an educator, I believe play is an important part of a student’s time spent in school because students have time to engage in quality time with their peers, explore familiar and unfamiliar materials, and create lifelong friendships simply by playing together. Children can engage in role-playing and imaginative play. It allows them to express themselves without being told what to do. Through play, students can learn how to express and cope with their feelings. I also believe self-directed play fosters their creativity.
When teachers are told what to teach it often times prevent them from fostering creativity with their students. That’s unfortunate because we know that sometimes it’s the creative ways that the lesson is taught that allows students to understand and retain the material. Other ways to promote creativity is to allow the students to make choices, allow time for discovery and exploration, and allow students opportunity to express themselves. It is so important that students experience this in early childhood classrooms in particular because as they get older time in the classroom will be heavily focused on academics. Creativity stays with a child through their life. If done correctly, it can continue to grow and flourish.
If you ask kindergarten teachers whether they prefer for a child to come to kindergarten with high academics or social and emotional skills, I believe they would overwhelmingly choose social and emotional skills. Without them, it can be very hard to teach students who lack the skills of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and decision-making. I believe the development of these skills will help students regulate their feelings in a positive way and interact with other peers. Students without strong social and emotional skills can often show aggression because they do not have the skills and strategies to cope with their feelings and/or to problem solve. These skills also help foster creativity in students. Let’s all remember when school was an enjoyable and sometimes fun place to learn, live, and create!